Smokers pass nicotine by-products to their babies


London : Parents who smoke pass harmful nicotine by-products to their babies, says a study that highlights the effect of smoking in homes on babies.

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Medical research has determined that chronic tobacco smoking is a major contributing factor towards many health problems, particularly lung cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, smoking is a greater cause of death and disability than any other single factor.

To understand the impact of cigarette smoke on babies' health, researchers at the University of Leicester measured the amount of cotinine, a by-product of nicotine, in the urine of 104 12-week-olds, 71 of who had parents who smoked.

On an average, children with at least one smoking parent had 5.58 times as much cotinine in their urine as babies living in non-smoking homes, reported the online edition of the Daily Mail.

Infants who slept with their parents tended to have higher cotinine levels, which may have been because they had greater exposure to parents' smoke contaminated clothing, the researchers wrote in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The temperature in an infant's room also influenced cotinine levels, with lower temperature tied to higher amounts of the nicotine ingredients, added the researchers.

"Our findings clearly show that by accumulating cotinine, babies become heavy passive smokers secondary to the active smoking by parents," said a scientist.