4-D ultrasound scans of fetuses show that babies writhe in the womb when their mother smokes; a non-smoking mother’s baby does not.
Pregnant women who smoke are encouraged to quit because smoking is related to premature birth, cot death and respiratory problems such as asthma for the child. Currently, 12-20 percent of pregnant mothers still smoke in the UK and the US.
Now, further evidence of distress to the foetus from smoking has emerged through the use of 4-D imaging techniques in ultrasound scans. In a study in the journal Acta Paediactrica, Dr Nadja Reissland used 4-D ultrasound imaging to show thousands of tiny movements of a baby in the womb. Scans of 24, 28, 32 and 36-week old babies of mothers who smoked 14 cigarettes or more a day caused the babies to have significantly higher rates of mouth movement and self-touching compared against non-smoking mothers’ babies, whose actions were calm, showing greater control in their motor movement.
This writhing movement by babies whose mothers smoke shows they are under stress. Dr Reissland believes that videos of these images will encourage pregnant women who smoke to quit as they become more aware of the distress smoking causes their child.
The Acta Paediactrica article:
Ultrasound observations of subtle movements: a pilot study comparing fetuses of smoking and non-smoking mothers
The Daily Telegraph article:
Unborn baby shown grimacing in womb as mother smokes