Doctors have been urging expectant mothers to stop smoking during pregnancy for years, but have you ever actually seen what happens to an unborn baby when its mother smokes?
A study led by Dr. Nadja Reissland, from Durham and Lancaster University’s Psychology Department, has found that babies actually touch their faces far more often in the womb if their mother smokes throughout pregnancy.
The study only involved 20 mothers total, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day, but the researchers are now hoping to expand the study after their eye-opening results.
Reissland studied several moving 4D scan images and recorded thousands of tiny movements the babies made inside the womb before making the stunning conclusions.
The unborn baby in the image below is being carried by a non-smoking mother:
According to Reissland, the results indicate that babies born to mothers who regularly smoke may have delayed development of the central nervous system.
“A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking,” Reissland said.
She believes that taking videos of the differences in pre-birth development may finally encourage soon-to-be mothers to give up smoking during pregnancy.
“Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the foetus in ways we did not realise,” said co-author Professor Brian Francis, of Lancaster University. “This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”