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Black Kids Suffer More from Prenatal Tobacco Exposure, Study Suggests

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Low-level prenatal tobacco exposure was “associated with deficits in both motor and cognitive development, but only for black children,” said Kimberly Yolton, Ph.D., detailing the findings of a study recently presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

Researchers studied developmental differences among 242 white and black children, ages 1 and 2, who had been exposed to tobacco smoke prior to birth. Only children of mothers with measurable amounts of the nicotine metabolite cotinine were studied; about 30 percent of the study subjects were smokers or reported exposure to secondhand smoke, but many others still had measurable cotinine in their blood, suggesting that they had been unwittingly exposed to tobacco smoke.

Yolton, a researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, noted that nicotine concentrations can be 15 times higher in fetal blood than in their mothers' bloodstream.

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