It turns out there's more harm to smoking during one's pregnancy than previously thought.
A new study conducted by doctors at Durham and Lancaster Universities in England found that the fetuses of women who smoke during their pregnancies move their mouths and touch themselves more often than those carried by non-smoker mothers - possibly a sign of delayed development of the central nervous system.
The initial study only involved 20 mothers, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.
The fetuses were monitored with the use of 4D scan images, which recorded thousands of tiny movements in the womb. The scans took place during weeks 24, 28, 32 and 36 of the pregnancy.
This is what a healthy baby looks like inside the womb:
This is what a baby whose mother smoked during her pregnancy looks like:
Dr. Nadja Reissland, one of the doctors involved in the pilot study, believes the difference in the pre-birth development can help mothers give up smoking during their pregnancy:
“Ideally, like further in the future, would be that we can actually have it for patient benefit by looking at whether when we show mothers educational videos that are made out [of] these videos of fetuses showing the increase of movements that they might be more inclined to stop smoking.”
Co-author Brian Francis added, according to Metro.co.uk:
‘Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realize. This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy."
Fortunately, all of the babies involved in the study were born perfectly healthy.