Smoking During Pregnancy Affects Organ Growth of Fetus

The risks of smoking are well known, and include increased blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer, among others. It has also been well established that mothers who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of complications and put the health of their unborn child in jeopardy. Some of the complications that can occur as a result of smoking during pregnancy are placenta previa, placental abruption, miscarriage, and gestational bleeding.

For children born to mothers who smoke, developmental problems affecting respiratory processes and other organ impairments are not uncommon. Further, children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to develop obesity and diabetes than children whose mothers didn’t smoke during pregnancy, despite the fact the prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking (PEMCS) usually results in low birth weight.

Although these facts are well known, it is estimated that nearly one in five pregnant women still smoke. To better understand the negative impact of PEMCS on organ development, Devasuda Anblagan of the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom recently conducted a study involving 26 pregnant women, half of whom were smokers. The women were evaluated and MRIs were conducted on the fetuses at 22 weeks and again at approximately 35 weeks into the pregnancies.

The results revealed that PEMCS was directly associated with decreased brain and kidney volumes in the fetuses and that these decreases were significantly elevated from time 1 to time 2. Although lung and placental volumes were also decreased in the PEMCS fetuses, the decreased volumes were similar at both time points. Liver volumes appeared to be unaffected by the PEMCS.

Angblagan said, “In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrate that intrauterine exposure to cigarette smoking is associated with impaired fetal and fetal organ growth, particularly in the kidney and brain.” Efforts at reducing and preventing prenatal smoking should be increased to lower the risk of future organ and developmental problems for the unborn children of smoking mothers.

Reference:
Anblagan, D., Jones, N.W., Costigan, C., Parker, A.J.J., Allcock, K., et al. (2013). Maternal smoking during pregnancy and fetal organ growth: A magnetic resonance imaging study. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67223. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067223

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  • Allison w

    Allison w

    July 26th, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    I can’t believe that with the message that we have been trying to get out for YEARS now that smoking while pregnant is harmful to the fetus that there are still those mothers who continue to do it! And yet I see it all the time. makes me just want to go up to them and yank that smoke right out of their mouths!

  • Leisl

    Leisl

    July 27th, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    In my country smoking while pregnant still no big deal. Everyone does it, so surprised to hear the uproar about that here in States. I don ‘t smoke so no big deal, but have friends and koms at home who always do this.

  • adam

    adam

    July 28th, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    the fact about obesity-just how much has smoking when pregnant contributed to the overall childhood obesity that seems to be exploding in our country today?and because it does cause a strain on our health facilities,should smoking when pregnant attract a penalty?!

  • elena

    elena

    July 29th, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Why oh why would a woman still smoke while she is pregnant?
    Well, why would anyone continue to smoke now that we are aware of all the damage that it does to our bodies and to those unfortuante enough to inhale the second hand smoke, but especially a pregnant woman.
    It just seems so antiquated and seriously irresponsible to smoke if you are pregnant.
    I know that if you honestly want to quit then you could have all the support in the world to help you do that. If you don’t then it must just be a matter of having a death wish for yourself and the baby.

  • LACIE

    LACIE

    July 31st, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Some people are suicidal some others just smoke.But no matter which group one belongs to the end result is often the same.Enough said.

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