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Health & Medicine Maternal Smoking Linked to Respiratory and Non-Respiratory Infections in Infants

Maternal Smoking Linked to Respiratory and Non-Respiratory Infections in Infants

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First Posted: Oct 22, 2013 09:50 AM EDT
Fetal Exposure to Nicotine Triggers Long Term Risk of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome
Fetal Exposure to Nicotine Triggers Long Term Risk of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome (Photo : Flickr.com/Toni Blay)

A latest study uncovers the impact of maternal smoking on the infant's immunity. According to the finding, maternal smoking is linked with respiratory and non respiratory infections in infants.

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Researchers looked at the hospitalization record and death certificates of almost 50,000 infants born in the state of Washington between 1987-2004. The case control study examined the hospitalizations and deaths due to respiratory and non respiratory infectious disease. They noticed that the infants born to mothers who smoked were 50 percent more likely to be admitted to hospitals or die from a variety of infectious diseases compared to infants born to mothers who did not smoke.

"We've known for a long time that babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are at high risk for serious medical problems relating to low birth weight, premature delivery and poor lung development," lead study author Abigail Halperin, MD, MPH said in a statement. "While respiratory infections have been recognized as a common cause of these sometimes life-threatening illnesses, this study shows that babies exposed to smoke in utero also have increased risk for hospitalization and death from a much broader range of infections-both respiratory and non-respiratory-than we knew before."

They also noticed that the birth weight and gestational age didn't count.

"Even full-term babies with normal weight are at increased risk for hospitalization or death from multiple types of infections if their mother smoked," said Dr. Halperin. "The results suggest that exposure to smoke during pregnancy harms infants' immune responses more generally, not just within the respiratory system."

The researchers discovered that when mothers reduced their cigarette smoking or quit  during pregnancy it lowered the infant's risk of infections.

The study was published in the journal Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

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