Tag Archives: neurodevelopment of infants

Neurodevelopment of Infants Born to Mothers Who Smoke

Research statistics gathered by a study lead by Professor George Wehby of the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health have revealed startling evidence about the neurodevelopment of babies of mothers that smoke during pregnancy, and these facts are much worse than expected.

The study’s female participants were from health clinics in the countries of Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. It included assessing 1,600 children.

Smoking Jeopardizes Infants’ Healthy Development

Trained physicians performed cognitive tests along with assessing the children’s basic neurological function and communication skills in their surveys.

They found a disturbing fact: that mothers of unborn children continue smoking during pregnancy are subjecting their babies to as much as a 40 percentage point increase in the probability of being at risk of developmental problems by the ages of three and twenty-four months.

Part of the reason for this high percentile is double-fold. Many of the mothers sampled were from a poor socioeconomic status. Mothers who are poor have been found to smoke in greater quantity and have less access to proper prenatal care.

The study also included additional controls that many other research studies did not, which refined the study’s accuracy. The full details of the study are available in: George L. Wehby, Kaitlin Prater, Ann Marie McCarthy, Eduardo E. Castilla, Jeffrey C. Murray, “The Impact of Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy on Early Child Neurodevelopment.” Journal of Human Capital 5:2 (Summer 2011).

FDA Warnings for Mothers Who Smoke

In 2005, 12 percent of pregnant women in the US still smoked while pregnant, thinking of foremost of themselves over their babies’ healthy development. An unborn baby is not protected from the dangerous chemicals a mother’s body absorbs from cigarette smoking.

The FDA’s new cigarette package labels include a warning on the dangers of second hand smoke to unborn children as one of their 9 new label designs in hopes to lower this statistic.

Reference: Kevin Stacey, kstacey@press.uchicago.edu
University of Chicago Press Journals, 773-834-0386