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Physiological Effects of Infant Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: A Passive Observation Study

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This study explored infant physiologic responses of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) using a longitudinal passive observation study with a control group. Fifteen smoking and 15 non-smoking mothers were initially contacted in hospital maternity units, with home visits made when their infants were 2, 4, and 6 weeks old. Exposure to ETS was measured using infant urinary nicotine and cotinine levels. The physiologic effects of infant ETS exposure were measured by rectal temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. The smoking mothers in this sample were poorer, had less education, and were less likely to be married than the mothers who did not smoke. At birth, the infants of smoking mothers had higher diastolic blood pressure than infants of non-smoking mothers (p < .008). Mothers who smoke cigarettes should be educated that maternal smoking behavior can affect an infant's cardiovascular function. Parents should also be counseled about the risks of smoking in close proximity and/or in an enclosed space with an infant, especially in a motor vehicle.
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Keywords: environmental tobacco smoke; infant care; perinatal education

Document Type: Standard Article

Affiliations: 1: MARY BETH FLANDERS-STEPANS is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. 2: SARA FULLER is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

Publication date: 1999-01-01

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