Infants of smoking mothers at risk of high blood pressure

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Blood pressure issues are prevalent in newborns of mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Blood pressure issues are prevalent in newborns of mothers who smoke during pregnancy. The issues continue often through the child's first year of life, according to research.

The study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, compared 19 infants of nonsmoking couples with 17 infants born to women who smoked an average of 15 cigarettes per day during pregnancy.

At 1 week old, infants of nonsmoking mothers experienced a 2% increase in blood pressure when tilted upright at a 60-degree angle during sleep; there was a 10% increase at 1 year. For children of smoking mothers, the pattern was reversed: a 10% increase in blood pressure at 1 week and a 4% increase at one year.

Researchers noted that re-programming of cardiovascular function in children of smokers is present at birth and continues in a more dramatic fashion over time. The study will continue to monitor cardiovascular reprogramming in these children over time to assess possible health implications later in life.

Cohen G, Jeffrey H, Lagercrantz H, Katz-Salamon M. Hypertension. 2010; Jan. 25 (epub).

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