Children are more than twice as likely to be DEAF if they were exposed to cigarettes in the womb and in the first four months of their lives
- Exposure to smoke in pregnancy and as newborns raises the risk by 2.4 times
- Three-year-olds exposed within the first four months of life are 30% more at risk
- 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
- Around 9 million people in the UK and 30 million in the US have hearing loss
Children who were exposed to smoke in the womb and as babies are more than twice as likely to be deaf, new research suggests.
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.
Around nine million people in the UK and more than 30 million in the US have hearing loss. Approximately 15 per cent of adults smoke.
Children exposed to smoke are more than twice as likely to be deaf (stock)
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IS THE END OF SMOKING ‘IN SIGHT’ IN THE UK?
The end of smoking is finally ‘in sight’, officials claimed in June 2017 following figures that suggested another drop in rates across the UK.
Just one in six adults now regularly light up cigarettes – with 680,000 having given up the habit completely in 2016.
The numbers of smokers dropped from 19.9 per cent in 2010 to just 15.5 per cent in 2016 in England alone, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Across all ages smoking prevalence is in decline, with the largest fall in 18-to-24 year olds, while e-cigarette use is on the rise in this age group.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said the UK has the second lowest smoking rate in Europe after Sweden, which proves that the Government’s tobacco-control policies are effective.
‘Preventing exposure to tobacco smoke may reduce the risk of hearing problems’
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.
‘This study clearly shows that preventing exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and postnatally may reduce the risk of hearing problems in children.
‘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.’
How the research was carried out
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.
Toddlers whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and who were exposed to cigarettes during the first four months, are 2.4 times more likely to suffer hearing impairment (stock)
It is not illegal for a pregnant woman to harm her unborn child by smoking and drinking in the UK, but some think it should be.
Others say banning pregnant women from smoking would be a gross intervention by the ‘nanny state’ and a violation of the mother’s free will as well as unenforceable.
Smokers who vape are half as likely to ditch tobacco
This comes after research released in March 2018 suggested smokers who vape are half as likely to ditch tobacco as those who never use e-cigarettes.
Even those who just occasionally vape are 67 per cent less likely to quit smoking for good, a study found.
Daily e-cigarette users are 48 per cent less likely to ditch the cancer-causing habit, the research adds.
Study author Dr Stanton Glantz, from the University of California, San Francisco, said: ‘This is important because e-cigarettes are widely promoted as a smoking cessation tool.
‘And, while there is no question that some smokers do successfully quit with e-cigarettes, they keep many more people smoking.’
Although often touted as a healthier alternative to tobacco, previous research suggests e-cigarettes may be linked to heart attacks and stroke, as well as being a gateway into nicotine use.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF SMOKING WHILE PREGNANT?
Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to the baby. As a result, their heart has to beat harder every time the mother smokes
Increased risk of complications in pregnancy and birth
Less likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
Increased risk of stillbirth
Baby more likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature.
Baby more likely to be born underweight: babies of women who smoke are, on average about 8oz lighter than other babies. This means they’re more likely to struggle keeping warm and are more prone to infection
Increased risk of cot death
Each year, smoking during pregnancy in the UK causes an estimated:
2,200 premature births
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