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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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Mothers' Smoking May Harm Lungs of Unborn
17 October 1996 8:00 pm
A mother who smokes during pregnancy may impair the lungs of her unborn child, reports a study in the 19 October issue of The Lancet. In the past, some experts--including those in the tobacco industry--had challenged studies linking children's lung problems with maternal smoking habits. But pediatric researchers say this report confirms the effect.
The new finding comes from a group led by S. M. Stick of the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Australia. He and his colleagues set out to measure the respiratory function of infants during the first hours of life outside the womb. By testing children immediately after birth, they hoped to answer critics who had said that postnatal exposure to smoke or infectious agents--not lung function itself--was the cause of infants' wheezing and other lung problems. A key innovation in this study was Stick's use of a high-tech device to measure the volume of breath--a plethysmograph, worn like a belt around the chest. It avoids the need for a face mask, which often requires sedation and may alter breathing.
Stick and his team examined 461 infants born to mothers enrolled in a large pregnancy study. They also asked the mothers how much they smoked and checked their blood for cotinine, a metabolite of tobacco smoke. They found that a distinctive shallow breathing pattern in infants was linked independently to three risk factors: If their mothers suffered from hypertension, had a family history of asthma, or smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day. Because older children with obstructive lung disease have exhibited a similar breathing pattern, Stick theorized that the infants' lungs had developed poorly.
``The picture is very clear,'' claims pediatric pulmonologist Fernando Martinez of the University of Arizona, Tucson. ``Smoking is not only bad for the moms who smoke during pregnancy, but it is also very bad for the children. This is something ... the tobacco industry can no longer argue against.''