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Ultrasound Images Reveal What Smoking Does to Unborn Babies

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A study of ultrasound scans is revealing how the development of unborn babies can be affected when their mothers smoke during pregnancy.

Research conducted by Durham University, Lancaster University and Dr. Nadja Reissland monitored 20 mothers, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.

Ultrasound scans of unborn babies whose mothers smoked showed a “significantly higher” rate of mouth movement than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a healthy fetus.

Researchers said one reason might be the fetal central nervous system did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.

“Fetal facial movement patterns differ significantly between fetuses of mothers who smoked compared to those of mothers who didn’t smoke,” said Dr. Reissland.

Similar to other studies, research shows maternal stress and depression also have a significant impact on fetal movements, but the increase in mouth and touch movements was even higher in babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.

“Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realize,” said co-author Brian Francis, of Lancaster University. “This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”

The babies involved in the study were all clinically assessed and were healthy when they were born, according to Durham University.

Researchers said additional studies are needed to examine the relationship between smoking and fetal development.


  • John Smith

    The term “unborn babies” is a misnomer at best; such a thing does not exist in the real world.

    It is a term made up by the anti-choice crowd in American politics. That the “Tribune Media Wire” would use it strongly suggests that they have no intention of practicing actual journalism. That WHO-TV News would disseminate it is, sadly, no very great surprise.

    • MotherMomMamaMommyMaMutter

      As a female, I can assure you that when I was pregnant, my yet-to-be-born child was indeed always my baby, from the very beginning. I am pro-choice, but as a woman, it is also MY choice to call my unborn child a baby, and you have no right to tell me otherwise.

    • Kaitlin

      I think it’s okay to call it a baby if you’re not writing a scientific paper since it’s easier for young children to understand, and more comfortable to say. Ive been calling the lump of cells in my belly (I’m 3 weeks along) a baby so that my 2 year old understands what’s happening. If, however, you are writing an article or a scientific paper it’s inappropriate to refer to things by something that isn’t the actual name. You shouldn’t get on individuals cases about it because you don’t know their lives or why they refer to it that way

      • John Smith

        Sorry, KAITLIN, but I didn’t coin the term, nor do I tend to use it since it is not an accurate term.

        But, I know who does, and why they do so. And, I hold self-described “journalists” to high standards with regard to the accurate use of terms, especially in cases where NOT doing so reflects a bias in favor of one viewpoint over others.

        As in this case, for example.

  • John Smith

    Well, good for you. However, the definitions of words actually matter, and something that is referred to as a baby has already been born. Not to be confused with the word “child”, as you seem inclined to do.

    • John Smith

      Sorry, this should have appeared as a REPLY to MotherMomMamaMommyMaMutter above. Who, among other failings, seems to think that English definitions are some sort of matter of choice.

      • Mike Cee

        You can’t even reply to the correct post. That limited ability pretty much nullifies much of what you have to say.

      • John Smith

        Actually, MIKE CEE, once I hit the POST REPLY button, it’s out of my control with regard to what the software decides to do. But, at least I try to make amends for its shortcomings.

        I rather think its YOUR inability to find any response to my posts that is what is actually on display here. Hence, the lame Dittohead “argument”.

  • Eddie Haskell

    Hey John Smith — I think it is time for your interview with WHO . They are looking for someone to boost circulation with drama .

    • John Smith

      I hear they’re looking for a sniveling two-faced dimwit, EDDIE. So, I reckon you’re a shoe-in.

      Now, had you ever considered posting something about the actual topic?

  • Annie

    Not sure how anyone can look at the pictures above and NOT call this a baby. If it’s not a baby, what is it? A monkey? Before my children were born, I always referred to them as what they were- babies. Yes, I know there are those who would argue that it should be called a fetus, tissue, or whatever so please hold your comments when I post this.
    Also, the comments on this site are missing the point! The article was to point out the dangers of smoking while pregnant.

    • John Smith

      The dangers of smoking while pregnant have been common knowledge for quite a few decades, now. So, I fail to see what posting ultra-sound images is supposed to be accomplishing here.

      Excepting, of course, to misrepresent a fetus as an “unborn baby”, and I can think of only one reason for that.

      • Fred

        Judging by your comments, mom obviously smoked before you were born. “John Smith,” are you a friend of Pocohontas?

      • Jay

        The ultrasound images are to show what the study proved- that unborn babies exposed to smoke demonstrated a reaction.

      • John Smith

        JAY, again, I scarcely think there is any new information here, at least regarding fetuses. I didn’t see any “baby” ultrasound images, and neither did you in this article.

        And, FRED, my mother actually never smoked, pregnant or otherwise. So, I reckon that’s just another in a very long life-time list of things you are wrong about.

      • Kelsie

        John Smith, you are obviously a very bitter person with a chip on your shoulder about something in life. I cannot believe the nasty comments you have left, or the names that you have called others only for expressing their opinions. You want everyone to listen to your opinions, but when they express their own, you become nasty. It is sad that you have so little to do in your life other than comment on news stories on a website and call other people names. You must be a very lonely person.

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