Effect of maternal smoking on neonatal respiratory function - Tips from Other Journals

Author: Anne D. Walling
Date: Feb 15, 1997

Children with wheezing illnesses and asthma are more likely than other children to have mothers who smoke. However, it is not clear if this relationship is the result of exposure to tobacco smoke in utero or to environmental exposure during infancy. Stick and colleagues conducted a study to assess the effect of smoking during pregnancy on respiratory function in neonates.

Inductance plethysmography was conducted in 500 healthy newborn infants in an Australian hospital. Data were collected on the infants during quiet sleep a median of 58 hours after birth. The pulmonary function results were correlated with information provided by mothers on a detailed questionnaire concerning health and smoking by the mother and other household members. The maternal history of smoking was confirmed in a sample of 238 mothers by results of serum cotinine measured at 28 weeks of gestation.

The infants of smoking mothers weighed significantly less and were significantly shorter than infants born to nonsmoking mothers. The ratio of time to peak tidal expiratory flow to total expiratory time was significantly related to respiratory rate, age of infant, maternal smoking, history of a first-degree relative with asthma and maternal hypertension. When multivariate analysis was conducted, lower ratios were significantly related to maternal smoking, a family history of asthma and maternal hypertension. The relationship to maternal smoking was dose-related.

The authors conclude that lung development in utero is adversely affected by maternal smoking. Since these findings have important implications for respiratory malfunction in older children and adults, the authors stress the importance of elimination or minimization of tobacco use during pregnancy.

Stick SM, et al. Effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy and a family history of asthma on respiratory function in newborn infants. Lancet 1996;348:1060-4.

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