Smoking in pregnancy tied to harmful brain changes in unborn babies and children

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Smoking in pregnancy tied to harmful brain changes in unborn babies and children

A study involving more than 2,700 children ages 9 to 11 found that exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with lower brain volumes as well as suboptimal cortical traits and less gyrification in children at 10 years of age.

The researchers also noted in JAMA Network Open that these changes in brain structure were not found in children who were only exposed early in the pregnancy.

Children exposed to maternal smoking in only the first trimester were found to have the same brain morphology as children not exposed at all.

These results are consistent with those of prior studies, which also showed smaller brain sizes in unborn children and older children exposed to maternal smoking.

The bottom line is that for favorable long-term brain development in children, the authors encouraged ceasing maternal smoking before pregnancy starts or very early in pregnancy.

Additional details are in Contemporary Pediatrics.

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