Pregnant women, who smoke, put their babies at an increased risk of developing weak immunity. A new study has found depressing results that infants of mothers who smoked, were 50% more likely to develop respiratory and other infections.
Number of infants of smoker mothers admitted to a hospital or die from any of a wide variety of infectious diseases was double than the infants of non-smokers.
The case study assessed infant hospitalisations and deaths due to respiratory and non-respiratory infectious disease.
"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," said Abigail Halperin, lead author of the study published in journal Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
"While respiratory infections have been recognised as a common cause of these sometimes life-threatening illnesses, this study shows that babies exposed to smoke in uterus also have increased risk for hospitalisation and death from a much broader range of infections, both respiratory and non-respiratory, than we knew before," Halperin said.
Birth weight and gestational age was not a determining factor in the study, "thus even full-term babies with normal weight are at increased risk for hospitalisation or death from multiple types of infections if their mother smoked," she said.
The results suggest that exposure to smoke during pregnancy harms infants' immune responses more generally, not just within the respiratory system, she said.
The study will be presented this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando.
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