- Children are 26% more at risk if their mothers smoked during their pregnancies
- Nicotine interferes with messengers that tell the brain what it is hearing
Three-year-olds whose mothers smoked during their pregnancies and who were exposed to cigarettes during the first four months of their lives, are 2.4 times more likely to suffer hearing impairment, a Japanese study found.
Youngsters who were only exposed to second-hand smoke as newborns are 30 per cent more at risk of deafness, while those whose mothers only smoked while expecting are 26 per cent more likely to have hearing difficulties.
Previous findings suggest nicotine interferes with chemical messengers in the nerve that tells the brain what sound it is hearing. Smoking may also irritate the lining of the middle ear.
Study author Dr Koji Kawakami, Kyoto University, said, “Although public health guidelines already discourage smoking during pregnancy and in front of children, some women still smoke during pregnancy and many young children are exposed to second-hand smoke.”
Kawakami added. “This study clearly shows that preventing exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and postnatally may reduce the risk of hearing problems in children.”
He further said, “The findings remind us of the need to continue strengthening interventions to prevent smoking before and during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke in children.”
The researchers analysed 50,734 three-year-olds who were born between 2004 and 2010.
Some 15.2 per cent of the children’s mothers smoked during their pregnancies, while 3.9 per cent of the youngsters were exposed to second-hand smoke at four months old.
Of the toddlers, 0.9 per cent were exposed to both tobacco smoke during pregnancy and second-hand smoke in their early lives.
The findings were published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
Source: Daily Mail