Smoking in Pregnancy May up Risk of ‘Cross-Eyed’ Baby

New research indicates that every cigarette smoked by a pregnant woman increased her baby’s chances of strabismus by 5%. The research also indicates that smoking during pregnancy could worsen the eye disorder later on in the pregnancy as well.

Dr. Tobias Torp-Pedersen who was the lead researcher and is from the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark said that strabismus was a fairly common condition known to affect around 2%-3% of children, however, he said, its causes were still relatively unknown.

More commonly referred to as ‘cross-eyes’, strabismus is really a collective for over 30 varied conditions of where both eyes cannot align when focusing on something. This condition is sometimes linked to muscle problems and also to a certain amount of damage to the nerves. If this condition is not corrected it could even lead to a loss in vision, not to mention a number of social and psychological issues.

Torp-Pedersen also said that being exposed to harmful substances like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine, while being in the womb could also be one reason for strabismus.

Previously carried out research also connects alcohol and smoking, while being pregnant, to strabismus. However, such research was comparatively small and did not take into consideration the quantity of exposure and the timing. The effect of this exposure to harmful substances also needed to be looked against each strabismus subtype.

During the research, Torp-Pedersen along with his team identified over 1,300 strabismus cases. The research revealed that pregnant women who smoked put their children at a 26% risk of developing strabismus as opposed to those who did not. The report featured in the American Journal of Epidemiology stated that women who smoked between 5-9 cigarettes daily had a 38% risk of their baby being afflicted with strabismus; more than 10 cigarettes increased the risk up to 90%.

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