4D ultrasounds show smoking during pregnancy delays development of the central nervous system (CNS) says Dr. Nadja Reissland of Durham University. In the 36 week study involving 20 pregnant women, four of whom smoked an average 14 cigarettes a day, it was observed how the habit of smoking affected the movements of the developing foetus.
Comparing the control group against the smokers, the healthy foetuses start out by touching themselves around the head and face, and moving their mouths in all kinds of shapes, as they explore their body. But as their CNS continues to develop, allowing them greater control over their bodies, these movements become less frequent as shown in the video below, with the foetuses of the mother in the smoking group shown on the top panel and the control group shown on the bottom panel.
While Reissland and team are cautious to make any definitive statements on their study until the sample data can be expanded, the continuous advice for pregnant women to abstain from smoking for the entirety of their pregnancy remains to be sound, given this data and visual proof. She also notes the purpose of the study is to allow for more awareness, education and support for smokers to give up smoking.
All babies in the study were born healthy, of normal size and weight.