Tag Archives: smoking studies

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

New Zealand, Clearly Becoming Smoke-Free

If you want to stop smoking then pack your bag and fly over to New Zealand.

While you are there New Zealand tobacco regulatory agencies will offer you the facts on smoking dangers and by 2017 you may have to leave the country to buy tobacco products.

New Zealand is one of the many countries incorporating smoking bans, and like Canada they are banning smoking in your car.

Under the Influence While Driving

In New Zealand now you could be fined for smoking while driving in your car.

If you are a cigarette smoker you may be asking, “Do they fine people if they are not driving, but just sitting by the side of the road with the car ignition off?”

Or you might even ask, “Is there a smoking airbag that will explode if I am smoking in my car?”

Seriously, it does matter if you smoke while driving. You are polluting the air around you with second hand smoke. Windows up, windows down; it doesn’t matter.

Passengers who are riding with you including young children are also subject to your second hand smoke that could lead to potential harm, like contributing to asthma and other bronchial ailments.

It’s a Matter of Respecting Others


Young children are more at risk for these ailment because their lungs, like the rest of their bodies are still in the development stage.

The casual cigarette puff near a crib where an infant may be sleeping has been known to result in Sudden Death Syndrome. Children’s lungs actually take in more air because they breathe faster. They are unable to turn away from the smoke and of course infants do not know how harmful the smoke from tobacco is or even what it is.

A child who is around an adult smoker might draw closer to the lite cigarette because it is something new and their curious minds want to investigate. They do not know any better.

Adults may not want to smell your second hand smoke either. Many people are polite and will tolerate the fumes when they accompany you walking, driving or riding in a car.

Also, think about it. Many friends will endure second hand smoke before offending you. You might ask how you will feel if in time they suddenly fall victim of an unexplained bronchial infection, cancer, and other ailments that are known to be smoker related.

New Zealand’s Stop Regulations and Initiative

If we take the initiative and see what’s working for the people of New Zealand, (we are not saying they are doing everything right) we might learn something. Their smoking rates are considerably lower than those in other countries, including the US.

Why not concentrate on more aggressive efforts to teach our kids not to smoke. How about becoming a good example by not smoking nor exposing our children to friends who still smoke. These three actions would be a good start.

Paying higher premiums for healthcare services could also be a major game changer to help smokers quit.

New Zealand is on the right track to help smoking statistics drop in their country, which will in turn improve the quality of life for everyone. In fact, on September 5th,  2007, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in New Zealand called for the removal of tobacco from sale by 2017.

Since 1878 Reports Confirmed Smoking Was a Health Hazard

1878: Eighty-six years before the U.S. surgeon general issues a report confirming the dangers of smoking tobacco, a letter from English physician Charles R. Drysdale condemning its use appears in The Times of London.

Drysdale, the senior physician to the Metropolitan Free Hospital in London, had already published a book on this subject titled Tobacco and the Diseases It Produces, when he wrote the letter that described smoking as “the most evident of all the retrograde influences of our time.”

Drysdale had been on an anti-smoking crusade since at least 1864, the year he published a study documenting the effects on young men of consuming ¾ ounce of tobacco daily. That study reported cases of jaundice, and at least one subject having “most distressing palpitations of the heart.”

Drysdale’s book pinpointed nicotine as the dangerous agent and reported its ill effects on the lungs, circulation system, even the skin.

Havana-cut tobacco contained roughly 2 percent nicotine, while Virginia tobacco was a more toxic 7 percent, Drysdale pointed out. (Tobacco was a product of the New World and had to be imported to Europe.)

He also warned against exposure to second-hand smoke: “Women who wait in public bar-rooms and smoking-saloons, though not themselves smoking, cannot avoid the poisoning caused by inhaling smoke continually. Surely gallantry, if not common honesty, should suggest the practical inference from this fact.”

The prolific Drysdale wrote on a variety of other related subjects as well, including medicine as a profession for women and issues related to population control.

Despite Drysdale’s warnings, and despite the establishment of numerous anti-smoking movements, little was done to curb smoking anywhere in the world.

Though physicians and scientists understood there were numerous health hazards associated with the practice, the number of smokers increased dramatically in the first half of the 20th century. Thank you, Madison Avenue. Thank you, Hollywood.

The turning point probably came in 1957, when then-Surgeon General Leroy Burney reported a causal link between smoking and lung cancer. It was left to Burney’s successor, Luther Terry, to lower the boom.

Under Terry’s direction, a special committee produced Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General.

This 1964 bombshell — so volatile that it was released on a Saturday to minimize the effect on the stock market — began a massive change in people’s attitudes toward smoking.

And to think it only took 86 years.