Effects of prenatal tobacco exposure on newborn auditory information processing ability
LE3 .A278 2000
Master of Science
Numerous physical and cognitive effects of prenatal tobacco-exposure have been well documented in the literature. Animal studies indicate that tobacco is a neuroteratogenic agent, although findings with humans have been inconsistent. Studies with human infants investigating the effects of tobacco-exposure during pregnancy have been marred by unreliable subject identification procedures, poor control over confounding factors, and invalid measures of CNS integrity. The literature on the physical and cognitive effects of prenatal tobacco-exposure is reviewed and a study comparing tobacco-exposed infants with a matched control group ('N' = 48) at birth and at 3-weeks of age ('N ' = 18) on deficits of auditory information processing is presented. Maternal smoking was identified through self-report and verified using maternal saliva cotinine analyses. The reporting channel of maternal self-report of smoking status (i.e., self-administered questionnaire versus face-to-face interview) was assessed to determine if the method of reporting influenced the accuracy of mothers' self-report. Prenatal tobacco-exposure was associated with impairments in neonatal auditory information processing. Specifically, fetal tobacco exposure was found to interfere with newborns' ability to habituate to a sound source, but their ability to orient and recover responding to novelty was not consistently affected. A similar pattern of results was found at 3-week follow up, suggesting that the adverse effects of prenatal exposure last beyond the nicotine withdrawal period. The results imply that prenatal tobacco exposure is associated with impairments in information processing. These differences are discussed in terms of impairments in arousal regulation. These auditory processing deficits may be related to the language difficulties associated with prenatal tobacco exposure found in childhood.
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