Babies born to mothers who smoke or use nicotine patches during pregnancy are more likely to have colic, a new study published in the March issue of Pediatrics finds.
The study found that exposure to nicotine, either from the mothers smoking cigarettes or from nicotine replacement therapy, was linked to a significantly increased risk of colic in their babies, ranging from 30 to 60 percent, HealthDay reports.
Researchers looked at data based on more than 63,000 interviews with mothers, who participated in the Netherlands-based study, with interviews conducted during pregnancy and six months after the moms gave birth to their babies.
The findings concluded that 8 percent of the babies had colic. About 74 percent of the moms didn’t smoke; 24 percent reported that they did smoke; 2 percent of the moms said they smoked and used nicotine replacement therapy, while 0.3 percent of the women used nicotine replacement therapy alone.
“The theory is that there are nicotine receptors in the GI [gastrointestinal] system and nicotine receptors that alter serotonin and these alterations affect the babies after birth, causing colic,” said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Dr. Wu added that the causes of colic aren’t well understood, nor are the reasons why nicotine might raise the risk of colic. Prior research has also shown smoking to be associated with colic. However, these studies do not prove cause and effect.