New research indicates premature infants whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had a higher heart rate and more trouble breathing than preemies whose mothers didn't smoke.
The study by researchers at the University of Calgary — the first to look at the effects of prenatal cigarette smoke exposure on infants' heart rate and breathing responses — is the cover story of the Sept. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The team looked at 22 pre-term infants born at between 28 and 32 weeks; 12 had mothers who smoked five or more cigarettes daily during their pregnancy while the mothers of the other 10 did not smoke.
Dr. Shabih Hasan, a pediatrics professor and co-author, said they found the preemies whose mothers smoked would pause their breathing and be slow to recover from it to breathe normally. They also exhibited higher heart rates than the premature babies whose mothers did not smoke.