Cigarettes a danger to unborn babies – new evidence

The impact of cigarette damage to unborn babies has been revealed in a new stem cell study in which scientists found that the cocktail of chemicals in cigarettes is particularly harmful to developing liver cells.

They developed a method of studying the effects of maternal smoking on liver tissue using embryonic stem cells and the team, led by the University of Edinburgh, also discovered the cigarette chemicals affect male and female foetuses differently, the BBC reported.

During their research they used pluripotent stem cells – cells which have the ability to transform into other cell types – to build foetal liver tissue. Liver cells were exposed to the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, including specific substances known to circulate in foetuses when mothers smoke.

The study showed that a chemical cocktail – similar to that found in cigarettes – harmed foetal liver health more than individual components.

Dr David Hay, from the University of Edinburgh’s centre for regenerative medicine, said: “Cigarette smoke is known to have damaging effects on the foetus, yet we lack appropriate tools to study this in a very detailed way. This new approach means that we now have sources of renewable tissue that will enable us to understand the cellular effect of cigarettes on the unborn foetus.”

The liver is vital in clearing toxic substances and plays a major role in regulating metabolism.

Smoking cigarettes, which contain around 7,000 chemicals, can damage foetal organs and may do lasting harm.

A study by the NHS showed that in the year 2015/16, 10.6% of mothers were still smoking at the time of delivery and the report said: “Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious pregnancy-related health problems. These include complications during labour and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, still birth, low birth-weight and sudden unexpected death in infancy.”

Smoking, while diminishing in popularity, is a hard habit for many to break but clinical hypnotherapy has been proven to be successful in helping people quit the habit. According to the National Council for Hypnotherapy, research shows that quitting smoking with hypnosis is three times more likely to work than if nicotine patches were used.

“If you come to a hypnotherapist to stop smoking, the hypnotherapist may find that you started within a peer group situation,” says the NCH. “Often this stems from our desire to blend in, to become part of a group, and of course in evolutionary terms we need to be accepted by a group as our protection comes from being within groups – that is how we evolved and survived.”

If you decide you want to stop smoking with hypnotherapy, the therapist will assess your habit and write a treatment plan for you based on a range of different techniques. Each hypnotherapist will work with you differently, says the NCH.

“Your hypnotherapist will then assess your commitment to the treatment, as the desire to stop the behaviour or change the behaviour must come from you. If you want to give up smoking for someone else, it is unlikely to work.”

Explaining hypnotherapy’s high success rate in helping people quit smoking, the NCH says the reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with the subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made quickly and efficiently.