Influence of maternal smoking on autonomic nervous system in healthy infants

Pediatr Res. 2000 Feb;47(2):215-20. doi: 10.1203/00006450-200002000-00011.


To determine the influence of maternal smoking on autonomic nervous system in healthy infants, 36 infants were recorded polygraphically for one night. Their mothers were defined, according to their smoking frequency during pregnancy, as "nonsmokers" (no cigarettes smoked during pregnancy) or "smokers" (10 or more cigarettes per day). The infants had a median postnatal age of 10.5 wk (range 6 to 16 wk); 18 were born to nonsmokers, and 18 to smokers. During the whole night, spectral analyses of heart rate (HR) were evaluated as a function of sleep stages. Two major peaks were recognizable: a low-frequency component (LF) related to sympathetic and parasympathetic activities and a high-frequency component (HF) reflecting parasympathetic tonus. The ratio of LF/HF powers was calculated as an index of sympathovagal interaction. In REM sleep, "smokers" infants were characterized by significantly lower HF powers and normalized HF powers, and higher LF/HF ratios than "nonsmokers." The finding did not reach statistical significance in NREM sleep. In conclusion, maternal smoking induced changes in autonomic control and maturation in infants. These effects of cigarette smoke exposure can be added to those already reported and offer additional evidence for counseling mothers to stop smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Sleep, REM
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution