Study – Breastfeeding moms’ exposure to nicotine may be linked to an infant skull defect

A recent study suggests vaping and nicotine patches may be as dangerous as cigarettes.

The research was scheduled to be presented at the April 2020 American Association for Anatomy meeting held as part of the Experimental Biology conference, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In lieu of that presentation, the abstract was published in The FASEB Journal.

According to researchers, lactating mothers who use e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement approaches could be putting their babies at risk of developing skull defects. Scientists have already linked cigarette smoking to the increased risk for these abnormalities. For the test, nicotine was added to the drinking water of adult female mice that were nursing a litter of newborn pups, which was equivalent of about one-half to a full page of cigarettes per day.

They discovered that in 15-day-old pups, which is the equivalent to 1-2 years in humans, the skull joints across the top of their heads were narrowed, which would lead them to fuse earlier than normal, and because they do not drink water at this age, researchers confirmed breast milk was the only source of their nicotine exposure.

James Cray, associate professor of anatomy in Ohio State’s College of Medicine and senior author of the study indicated that in human babies, these skull abnormalities not only change the shape of the head but can lead to neurosurgery make room for the brain to grow. The disorder is called craniosynostosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 2,500 babies is born with this defect and while a definitive cause remains unknown, it has been linked in studies to genetic mutations and mothers’ use of certain medications.

The work was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The study was led by first author Amr Mohi, a graduate student in Cray’s lab, and also co-authored by Rajiv Kishinchand and Emily Durham.

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