MUMS-TO-BE have been issued with a fresh warning over smoking after experts in the North East discovered the affects can be seen in movements in the faces of their unborn babies.
Women have long been urged to give up cigarettes because they heighten the risk of premature birth, respiratory problems and cot death.
Now researchers, backed by Durham University, believe they have seen the effects in the womb – and want to use the images to encourage mothers to give up.
Dr Nadja Reissland monitored 20 mothers, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.
Scans showed the foetuses of mothers who smoked showed higher rates of mouth movement and self-touching, indicating such babies may have delayed development of the central nervous system.
Dr Reissland, from Durham’s Psychology Department, said: “A larger study is needed to confirm these results and to investigate specific effects, including the interaction of maternal stress and smoking.” She believed videos could help mothers give up smoking, but she is against demonising mothers, calling for more support for them.