Share & Connect
It is a known fact that parents who smoke create a very dangerous environment for their children. Recently, a large amount of evidence was released by several dutch scientists which has further buttressed this knowledge. It showed that parents smoking is majorly responsible for causing vascular damage in young children.
About five years ago, scientists in Holland began collecting data on the smoking habits of the parents of 259 children from the age of four weeks. They studied the cardiovascular health of these children until the age of five, measuring the carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) and the arterial wall distensibility, using ultrasonography to take measurements. They where looking for stiffening and abnormal thickness in the artery which can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
The results of this research was published in the journal Pediatrics. It showed that there is a direct relationship between children whose mothers were actively smoking during pregnancy and arterial damage. On average, the infants had carotid arteries with 15% more stiffness, as well as arterial thickening of 19 microns (which is about the thickness of a cassette tape) compared with those whose mothers did not smoke. In cases where both parents where actively smoking during pregnancy, the stiffness rose to 21% and thickening stood at 28 microns.
Associate Professor of clinical epidemiology at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands said that “with our findings, we think that smoking in pregnancy does play an independent role, although we know that exposure of children to secondhand smoke is damaging in many areas.”
The research could not establish any effect caused by fathers who where actively smoking during pregnancy or for mothers that began smoking after giving birth, thereby indicating that the most harm is done by actively smoking pregnant mothers.
Susanne Tanski and Karen Wilson, authors and paediatricians from Darthmouth College and University of Rochester respectively, stated : “there is no known safe level of exposure.” In conclusion to this this research they wrote that the study “Provides one more piece of evidence for the importance of smoking cessation, in particular, among families with young children and those planning to have children.”
Another research study showed that women who were actively smoking during pregnacy increased the risk of pregnancy complications, premature delivery, low weight infants, still births and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It may cause constrictions in the blood vessels of the umbilical cord and also reduced the amount of blood in the fetal cardiovascular system.