Nicotine Raises Fetus Risk Of Hypertension And Heart Disease Later In Life

(Medical News Today) — Consuming nicotine during pregnancy, even through non-smoking means, raises the risk for the fetus of elevated blood pressure, which can increase the chances of having a heart problem later in life, say researchers from California.

Dr. DaLiao Xiao, from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, California, said:

“We have found distinct links between cigarette smoking or even using nicotine patches or gum and the long-term harm for the child.”

The scientists stress that nicotine is the cause, rather than smoking. Therefore, nicotine gums, chewing tobacco, and any other non-smoking source of nicotine can also raise the risk. Put simply, for the sake of her unborn child, a pregnant woman should avoid all nicotine products.

In an animal experiment the scientists gave nicotine to pregnant rats. They found that their babies had an increased risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to the other offspring (who were not exposed to nicotine).

The authors explained that even though this study was an animal one, findings carried out on rats in this area fitted well with those that were done on people.

The scientists found that nicotine causes the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the walls of the fetus’ blood vessels. These ROS (type of chemicals) cause permanent changes to blood vessel behavior which persists for the rest of the baby’s life, including a higher risk of hypertension.


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