DiversityNursing Blog

Ultrasounds Show Fetuses React To Mothers' Smoking

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 @ 04:30 PM

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The impact of a mother's smoking can be seen on the face of her unborn baby, new research suggests.

Scientists at Durham and Lancaster Universities in England performed high-definition 4-D ultrasound scans on fetuses between 24 weeks and 36 weeks gestation and spotted distinctive differences in those whose mothers smoked. They say their findings add to the evidence that smoking may harm a developing fetus.

"Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realize," co-author Brian Francis, a professor at Lancaster University, said in a press statement.

The study, published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, involved 20 pregnant women; four were smokers who averaged about 14 cigarettes a day, and 16 were non-smokers. Each woman underwent four ultrasound scans over a three-month period.

The researchers say the fetuses whose mothers smoked showed a much higher rate of mouth movements, suggesting that their central nervous systems, which control such movement, did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as the fetuses of non-smokers.

"Fetal facial movement patterns differ significantly between fetuses of mothers who smoked compared to those of mothers who didn't smoke," said lead author Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University's Department of Psychology.

"Our findings concur with others that stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, and need to be controlled for, but additionally these results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on fetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression."

All of the babies involved in the study were born healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm delivery and low birthweight, which can lead to a range of health problems. 

Previous studies have found that infants exposed to smoking in utero have delayed speech processing abilities, and the researchers say the ultrasound scans may shed light on that aspect of development. 

"This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy," Francis said.

The researchers say more studies are needed, including a look at the impact fathers' smoking may have on their unborn children.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Topics: smoking, mother, infant, newborn, pictures, fetus, ultrasounds

Decline In Smoking Rates Could Increase Deaths From Lung Cancer

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Mar 04, 2015 @ 12:44 PM

Sandee LaMotte

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More people may die from undiagnosed lung cancer because they don't qualify for low-dose CT scans, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers. The researchers blame current screening guidelines that have remained the same despite the decline in smoking rates in the U.S.

"Our data raise questions about the current recommendations," said Mayo pulmonologist, Dr. David E. Midthun, one of the study authors. "We do not have the best tool to identify who is at risk for lung cancer."

Current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines recommend annual low-dose CT screening for adults age 55 to 80 who have smoked 30 pack-years (one pack a day for 30 years), and who currently smoke or have stopped smoking within the last 15 years. This criteria is used by doctors and insurance companies to recommend and pay for scans.

According to the researchers, the percentage of lung cancer patients who smoked at least 30 pack-years declined over the study period while the proportion of cancer patients who had quit for more than 15 years rose. 

"As smokers quit earlier and stay off cigarettes longer, fewer are eligible for CT screening, which has been proven effective in saving lives," said epidemiologist Dr. Ping Yang in a statement released by the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "Patients who do eventually develop lung cancer are diagnosed at a later stage when treatment can no longer result in a cure."

Over the study period the percentage of lung cancer patients who would have been eligible for CT screening under current guidelines fell dramatically: from 56.8% in 1984-1990 to 43.3% in 2005-2011. The proportion of men who would have been eligible decreased from 60% to 49.7%, while the percentage of women dropped from 52.3% to 36.6%. 

Researchers worry about the trend. "We don't want to disincentive patients to stop smoking," Midthun told CNN in a phone interview. "When I told one of my patients about the study, his first question was, 'If I stop smoking will I have to stop screening?'"

"We want people to stop smoking, and we don't want them to lie or continue smoking just so they can be screened," added Midthun. "We need better tools to make risk calculations for those who should be screened."

The Mayo study did not take into account other risk factors for lung cancer, such as personal and family history for lung cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) because they are not in the current guidelines for reimbursement. For example, COPD "raises a person's risk for lung cancer by four to six times," said Midthun, yet "only age and pack year history are in the guidelines."

"There's nothing magical in 30-year pack history," added Midthun. He told CNN that age is an equally important factor. "For example, if a person stops smoking at age 55, his risk of lung cancer at age 70 is higher than it was at age 55 when he quit."

The study was published in the February 24, 2015 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. It was funded by the Mayo Clinic and grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: smoking, cigarettes, Mayo Clinic, patients, deaths, screening, lung cancer, CT scans, smokers

California Lawmakers Want to Raise Smoking Age Limit

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 11:43 AM

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Should the legal age for smoking be raised from 18 to 21? That’s the question being pondered by lawmakers in California, where a growing contingent of health advocates are seeking to make their state’s minimum smoking age the highest in the United States.

Known as Bill 151, the legislation, which was proposed by Democrat Senator Ed Hernandez last Thursday, is designed to limit tobacco smoking among young people. Hernandez says it’s about preventing people from becoming addicted to cigarettes when they’re most vulnerable.

“Tobacco companies are aware that people tend to become addicted to smoking if they start it at young age,” Hernandez said. “Senate Bill 151 proposes to increase the legitimate smoking age in California from 18 to 21 years in an offer to restrain tobacco smoking in children and teenagers.”

Hernandez has evidence to support his cause. According to the American Lung Association, nine in ten smokers take up the habit right around the time they reach age eighteen. Overall, it’s estimated that about 36,000 California children begin smoking each year.

Hernandez says it’s time to take a tougher approach when it comes to preventing young people from smoking. “We can no more bear to sit on the sidelines while huge tobacco markets to our children and gets another era of youngsters snared on an item that will at last kill them,” Hernandez said.

California is not the first state to make this venture. Utah, New Jersey, Maryland, and Colorado have all tried to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, with every attempt ending in failure.

Source: www.activebeat.com

Topics: age, laws, government, California, smoking, cigarettes, tobacco, health, health care

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