Scientists have confirmed yet another reason why women should not smoke while pregnant.
A study of 456 babies has found that those born to mothers who smoked had higher systolic blood pressures than those whose mothers didn't smoke.
"Our findings indicate maternal smoking during pregnancy has a direct substantial impact on systolic blood pressure in early infancy," says lead author Caroline Geerts.
"This association appears to occur in utero and doesn't appear to be due to the postnatal environment of the infant."
Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had 5.4 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure than those not exposed to smoke while in the womb.
Baby boys were more likely o have higher systolic blood pressurers than girls if their mothers smoked.
"We can only speculate on the reason for this," said Geerts. "Perhaps gender is a modifier of stress responses including smoke exposure."
Babies born to mothers who smoke also tend to be lighter with a smaller chest circumference than other babies.
"We aren't sure that the systolic blood pressure will continue in time," said Geerts.
"It is unknown if our findings will have an impact on blood pressure later in life."
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