Nicotine exposure during pregnancy and lactation may lead to higher triglyceride levels in the offspring with adverse outcomes including metabolic syndrome and obesity later in their life, say researchers from University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Nicotine replacements such as nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray, and lozenges have long been used to get off nicotine addiction, but new research shows that even these replacements could be dangerous to both, mother and child. This study, published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, comes in the wake of earlier studies from Canada which found that babies born to mothers who smoked had 47 percent increased chances of becoming overweight.
AdvertisementDaniel Hardy and his team injected pregnant experimental animals with nicotine equivalent to one cigarette (nicotine bitartrate at 1mg/kg/day) for two weeks prior to mating until weaning. They found that babies born had a lower birth weight and six months after birth, the male offspring showed significantly high levels of circulating and liver triglycerides.
Side Effects of Nicotine
Obesity and metabolic syndrome are not the only harmful effects of nicotine in children born to smoking or NRT moms.
· Nicotine lowers the availability of oxygen to the fetus.
· It increases the heart rate in the baby.
· It lowers the birth weight of the baby born.
· It increases the risk of respiratory problems in the child.
· Nicotine also increases the risk for developing certain cancers, heart disease, allergies and other health problems.
· Babies exposed to nicotine, especially as second hand smoke, are at a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Adults too are affected by nicotine exposure including nicotine replacements. They are at a higher risk for -
· Arrhythmia and other cardiovascular disease including chances of heart attack
· Sore throat and respiratory problems, especially in people with asthma
· Convulsions ( seizures) and tremors
· Extreme exhaustion
· Disturbed hearing and vision
· Gastrointestinal problems
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
To relieve cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms from discontinuing the use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, products are used that provide low doses of nicotine seemingly without the harmful toxins found in smoke. This type of therapy of using alternative products to wean one off smoking or chewing tobacco is called nicotine replacement therapy.
The FDA has approved 5 types of nicotine replacement therapy, viz. gum, patch, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalers. However, even nicotine replacement therapy has its share of harmful side effects. Various studies have shown that -
· Approximately 6 percent of people with nicotine exposure get side effects such as dyspepsia, heartburn, dry mouth, and diarrhea with the patch and gum formulations.
· Heart burn is associated with 5 to 6 percent of people who use lozenges.
· Nicotine inhaler produces local irritant effects including coughing and rhinitis.
· Long term use of nicotine gum can cause hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.
· Nicotine gums can also cause vision problems in some people.
Obesity and Smoking Habits
Although it is true that smoking increases energy expenditure and may reduce appetite, which explains why smokers tend to have a lighter body weight and gain weight when they quit smoking, research indicates that smoking affects body fat distribution and that it is associated with central obesity and insulin resistance.
A Japanese study investigating whether smoking habits influenced waist circumference (central adiposity) and obesity-related disorders in obese and non-obese men, found that nonobese smokers had a higher incidence of obesity-related disorders. They also found that obese smokers were younger than obese nonsmokers and had a larger girth.
Effects of Maternal Smoking
The situation is worse where pregnant women are concerned. They harm not only themselves but create health risks for their babies as well. A review of data on hospitalization and infant deaths in America revealed that infants of mother who smoked were 50 percent more likely to die from a wide variety of infectious diseases than babies whose mothers did not smoke. This is because maternal smoking impairs the infant immunity.
Low birth weight, premature births, and still births are other consequences of maternal smoking. Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder has also been noted in infants of mothers who smoke. These findings send out a clear message for expecting mothers to quit smoking well in advance of conception to save themselves and their babies from nicotine related health risks. Incidentally, they must also be wary of nicotine replacement therapies because of reasons revealed by this new research.