Scientists have released new images of newborn babies 'grimacing' in the womb when their mothers smoke cigarettes. The pictures show the faces of babies in the womb and were taken during 4D ultrasound scans.
It's hoped that the pictures, which are pretty astonishing, will "encourage mothers who are struggling to give up", the Telegraph newspaper reports.
The research entailed studying the 20 mothers - four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day - and their scans to determine how the babies were affected by their mothers smoking.
Those whose mothers smoked showed "significantly higher rates of mouth movement and self-touching" than those whose mothers didn't smoke, according to the Telegraph, which indicates that "babies carried by smokers may have delayed development of the central nervous system".
Dr Reissland, who conducted the study, said more research into the matter is needed, and thanked the mums for taking part. She said:
"I'm really grateful, they did a good thing. These are special people and they overcame the stigma to help others."
The babies who featured in the study were all born healthy and of a normal size and weight, but the NHS reports that smoking during pregnancy can harm your unborn baby and increase the risks of stillbirth, cot death, prematurity and low birth weight.
If you would like help to stop smoking during pregnancy, contact the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 123 1044. The service exists to offer free help, support and advice on stopping smoking, including when you're pregnant.
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