Pregnant smokers can damage their child’s hearing ability

Washington D.C. [USA], February 13: Watch out preggers, specially the ones who smoke! If you are still on with this habit, then quit it as soon as possible.

A study says, nicotine exposure, before and after birth, can cause a child's hearing issues, due to abnormal development in the auditory brainstem.

This is according to a mouse model study, published in The Journal of Physiology. Nicotine exposure during pregnancy, has previously been shown to harm the brain development of a fetus.

Even the use of e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy have an increased risk of premature delivery, decreased child birth weight, and an increased rate of sudden infant death.

This research reports, for the first time, that the auditory brainstem, an area of the brain which plays a role in analysing sound patterns, may develop abnormally in offspring when pregnant mothers are exposed to nicotine before and after giving birth.

Children with impaired auditory brainstem function are likely to have learning difficulties and problems with language development.

German scientists added nicotine to the drinking water of pregnant mice at levels equivalent to heavy smokers.

When the offspring were born, the firing and signalling ability of neurons in their brains was tested - compared with unexposed offspring, neurons sensitive to input from the inner ear were less good at transmitting signals.

The signals they did transmit were less precise, so the coding of sound patterns was disrupted, the findings published in The Journal of Physiology showed.

Lead researcher Professor Ursula Koch, from the Free University of Berlin said, "We do not know how many other parts of the auditory system are affected by nicotine exposure.

More research is needed about the cumulative effect of nicotine exposure and the molecular mechanisms of how nicotine influences the development of neurons in the auditory brain stem." "If mothers smoke during pregnancy and their children show learning difficulties at school, they should be tested for auditory processing deficits," she added.

Nicotine exposure during pregnancy was already known to harm the brain development of foetuses, and mothers are at increased risk of premature delivery, and sudden infant death.

Source: ANI