We all know that nicotine is linked to many birth complications that include the increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight. New research is adding to the pile of risks: Exposure to nicotine before and after birth may cause hearing problems in children.
Researchers in Berlin, Germany, used mice to investigate the effects of nicotine on the developing fetus and newborn baby. They discovered that the neurons in mice exposed to nicotine didn’t send signals to other neurons in their auditory brainstem accurately.
In children, this is likely to cause difficulties in auditory processing, which may result in hearing impairment, language and learning problems, and social isolation.
Related: Use of Marijuana During Pregnancy
Lead researcher, Ursula Koch, 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. If mothers smoke during pregnancy and their children show learning difficulties at school, they should be tested for auditory processing deficits.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that despite the known risks that accompany smoking during pregnancy, 10 percent of women continue to smoke during their three final months of pregnancy.