A new study suggests that women who smoke while pregnant might be delaying the development of their child’s central nervous system.
The study was conducted by Durham and Lancaster University professors and is published by the journal, Acta Paediatrica, Metrok U.K. reports.
Out of the 20 mothers involved in the study, four reportedly smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.
The study found that the babies of the mothers who smoked moved their mouths and touched themselves significantly more than the babies of non-smokers.
Babies usually touch themselves and move their mouths less as they gain more control and get closer to birth.
Dr. Nadja Reissland, from Durham’s Psychology Department, recorded thousands of tiny movements in the womb for the mothers who smoked. The recordings suggest that smoking while pregnant may cause delayed development in a child’s central nervous system.
Researchers are hoping to further expand the study.
“A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking,” Reissland told Metro U.K., adding that she believes videos of the difference in pre-birth development could potentially help mothers quit smoking.
Lancaster University professor and co-author of the journal, Brian Francis, is convinced that technology will confirm their findings.
“Technology means we can see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the foetus [sic] in ways we did not realise [sic],” Francis said. “This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”