Envision Optical
Optometrist in QLD and NSW

Smoking During Pregnancy Associated With Childhood Vision Problems

November 19, 2015
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Posted By: Envision Optical

Despite all the evidence of harm over the last 30 years, smoking is still quite prevalent on the Gold Coast. We have educated our Gold Coast patients at Envision Optical for many years on the increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration with smoking. Obviously smoking is not good for your baby if you are pregnant.

Need another reason to avoid smoking (and other smokers) during pregnancy? Add potential vision problems for your baby to the list. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is a major public health concern. Research has shown fetal intra-uterine exposure to maternal cigarette smoking is associated with increased risks of growth problems, cognitive delays and other neuro-developmental issues among the children of smokers. But few studies have focused on potential children’s vision problems due to maternal smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy.

In a report published online in December 2014 by the Scandinavian eye journal Acta Ophthalmologica, researchers in the U.K. and China reviewed studies published since 1985 to examine vision issues in children exposed to cigarette smoking during intra-uterine life.

Of the 24 studies included in the analysis, 18 of them found fetal exposure to active maternal cigarette smoking or passive exposure to cigarette smoke were associated with an increased risk of vision problems in children. In particular, higher rates of refractive error (glasses prescription), strabismus (turned eyes)  and retina and optic nerve problems were found among children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

The researchers’ findings also support public health policies advising both women and their partners to quit smoking during pregnancy, they said.  It seems obvious doesn’t it, but if you know a female smoker, let them know there’s another reason to quit.