Smoking has long been known to be harmful during pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and other problems.
Based on 4D ultrasound images, the researchers found that fetuses carried by mothers who smoked were more likely to touch their face and have mouth movements than those of non-smoking women, a sign of delayed development.
The fetuses of smokers had 58% more mouth movements than those of non-smokers at 30 weeks, Reissland said. Reissland believes that nicotine may be affecting brain development in the fetuses, which slows their growth.
While all of the fetuses of smoking mothers were born at a healthy weight and age—that is, not prematurely—she believes these images may indicate unseen neurological issues.

Reissland emphasized that this is just a pilot study, and that she’d like to continue her research with a larger sample size. In the study, Reissland and her colleagues took images of 20 fetuses at four intervals from the 24th to the 36th weeks of pregnancy.
The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. Now, it seems the harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy may actually be visible by ultrasound, according to new research from Lancaster and Durham Universities in the U.K. Four of the fetuses belonged to mothers who smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day, while the other 16 fetuses were carried by non-smokers.

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