Smoking during pregnancy might cause hearing problems in children

Image result for pregnant woman smoking cigarette

"If mothers smoke during pregnancy and their children show learning difficulties at school, they should be tested for auditory processing deficits," said lead author Ursula Koch, professor at the Free University of Berlin.

For the study, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team exposed the offspring of the mice to nicotine before birth and via the mother's milk until they were three weeks
old - an age that is approximately equivalent to primary school children.

Analysing the brains of the mice offsprings, the researchers found that neurons that get input from the cochlea - sensory organ in the ear - were less effective at transmitting signals to other auditory brainstem neurons in mice exposed to nicotine. Moreover, these signals were transmitted with less precision, which deteriorates the coding of sound patterns. These could be part of the underlying causes for auditory processing difficulties in children of heavy smoking mothers, the researchers 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 brainstem," Koch said.

The ill-effects of smoking are no hidden secret. Nicotine, the potent chemical that is responsible for triggering many serious diseases, is the evil. It functions as a stimulant for the Parasympathetic Nervous System and is highly addictive. Long term cigarette smoking causes irreversible damages to the lungs and other vital organs of the body. Passive smoking also contributes to various health problems, so does smoking during pregnancy. Various studies have shown that smoking during pregnancy can harm the foetus by altering the DNA, causing premature development of organs, etc. A recent study done by Free University of Berlin in Germany states that nicotine exposure before and after birth may put babies at an increased risk of developing hearing problems due to abnormal development in the auditory brainstem.
The study showed that when pregnant mothers are exposed to nicotine, it could lead to abnormal development in kids, such as hampering the auditory brainstem - an area of the brain which plays a role in analysing sound patterns. Children with impaired auditory brainstem function are likely to have learning difficulties and problems with language development.