Even before conception, second-hand smoke has negative effects

By: TC Newman, Buzz60

Cigarette smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke is widely known to be harmful, especially to children and babies. But a new study has set out to prove that second hand smoke has adverse effects even before conception.

Researchers at Duke University used rats to replicate human exposure to second hand smoke and found that fetal brain development was impaired when the mother was exposed to tobacco, even prior to being pregnant.

They found the offspring of female rats in the experiment who had smoke exposure during the early gestational period and late in fetal development, all had brain damage regardless of when they were around second hand smoke.

The parts of the brain that received the most damage were the areas that control emotional response, learning, and memory.

The researchers say, "Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke -- even before conception -- appears to have a lingering impact that can later impair the brain development of a fetus."

Scientists are unsure of exactly how the tobacco smoke actually causes the physical damage to the fetus thought and say that more research is needed.

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