4-D Scans Show Effects on Unborn Baby When Mom Smokes

What you do during pregnancy is going to impact your child’s development. It seems like a no-brainer, yet many women still smoke while pregnant. A new study, conducted by researchers at Lancaster and Durham universities found that ” fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy,” according to a press release from Lancaster University.

The researchers looked at 80 4-D ultrasound scans of 20 fetuses. Four of the fetuses had moms who were smokers whereas 16 of them had moms who were non-smokers. “All fetuses were clinically assessed and were healthy when born,” the press release states.

So what’s going on in these scans? When looking at both scans, lead author Dr. Nadja Reissland from Durham University said, “Fetal facial movement patterns differ significantly between fetuses of mothers who smoked compared to those of mothers who didn’t smoke.”

New York Daily News reported that in the top row of pictures we see unborn babies of smokers grimace and cover their faces inside the womb.

The researchers suggested that this might be associated with the fetal central nervous system, which controls movements in general and the facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy. Researchers also noted a smaller finding. They found some evidence of a bigger delay in the reduction of facial touching by fetuses whose mothers smoked, compared to the fetuses of non-smokers.

It’s true a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, several thousand readers had words via social media. Some believe these smaller studies aren’t accurate enough, while other have strong feelings about smokers. Still, two other commenters offer some insight about smoking while pregnant. Here’s what they had to say:

“‪Yes, smoking is bad for people, and you shouldn’t smoke while pregnant. But studying 4 people doesn’t qualify this as an absolute. Using so few numbers is stupid and dangerous. It’s how we get fake facts, like the MMR vaccine causing autism (the original study had 9 autistic kids),” says‬ Cara Michelle – who sounded off on Lancaster University’s Facebook page.

“People who smoke suck. Women who smoke while pregnant should be arrested for endangering the life of a child and should not be allowed to raise the child,” says Basil Smith.

‪Edith Fanchier‬ says on Lancaster’s Facebook page, “I was told to not quit during my pregnancies to avoid stress on the pregnancy, just cut back. I have 2 healthy, normal functioning children 20 years later.”

Rebekah Britton added, “My sister’s obstetrician advised her to do the same. Quitting is more stressful on the body than the effects of a small number of cigarettes a day.”‬‬‬

More testing still needs to be done, researchers not. So, we’re guessing this isn’t the last we’re going to hear about this issue.


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