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Mothers' smoking hurts baby's teeth: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017

Children whose mothers smoke heavily during pregnancy are less likely to grow all their teeth, a New Zealand study has found.

While researches at the University of Otago found no significant link between the condition, known as hypodontia, and alcohol or caffeine, they concluded it was much more common in babies whose mothers had smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day during pregnancy.

Hypodontia usually involves children failing to grow six of their permanent teeth.

The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, looked at 83 children with the condition and 253 without and got their mothers to report on their smoking and drinking habits.

"There was a suggestion of a 'biological gradient' effect with tobacco - the more cigarettes a mother reported smoking during pregnancy, the greater the likelihood was of her child having hypodontia," lead author Professor Mauro Farella of the School of Dentistry said.

"Though more research is needed to confirm the association we found between maternal smoking and the condition, a plausible explanation is that smoking causes direct damage to neural crest cells in developing embryos."

Prof Farella said, combined with a large body of evidence about the damaging effects of smoking while pregnant, the study reinforced the importance of pregnant woman getting support for quitting.

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