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Smoking And Airway Development

Published on March 15th, 2012 09:18

The researchers have proved that smoking during pregnancy harms a baby's airways even before birth. Experts discovered babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were born with smaller airways. It made them more vulnerable to breathing problems. Smoking causes various health problems in babies, including low birth weight and prematurity.

The team, led by Professor Carol Dezateux and Professor Janet Stocks, discovered airflow through the breathing tubes was on average 20% lower in babies born to smoking mothers. Professor Janet Stocks said: "Every effort must be made to discourage women from starting to smoke and to help those who do smoke to stop, whether during pregnancy or after delivery."

The researchers examined the airway function of premature babies before they were taken home. The scientists also found that babies born to mothers who smoke shortly after birth suffered from wheezing illnesses in the first few years of life. Professor Stocks said: "This research adds to a large body of evidence which highlights the health consequences for babies of maternal smoking during pregnancy. Every effort must be made to discourage women from starting to smoke and to help those who do smoke to stop, whether during pregnancy or after delivery. This would not only reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory illnesses in infants and children, but would reduce inequalities in health and improve the health of young children in general since exposure to smoking at home is by far the most important source for young children."

Smoking mothers are at increased risk of having a miscarriage, stillbirth or premature infant. Babies born to mothers who smoke are shorter and lighter than those born to non smokers.