Researchers at Lancaster and Durham universities said the findings of their pilot study added weight to existing evidence that smoking is harmful to fetuses as they develop in the womb and warranted further investigation.
Professor Brian Francis, of Lancaster University, said: “Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realise. This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”
Observing 4-d ultrasound scans, the researchers found that fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy.
The researchers suggested that the reason for this might be that the fetal central nervous system, which controls movements in general and facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy. (Read more from “High-Definition Scans Suggest Effects of Smoking May Be Seen in Unborn Babies” HERE)