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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2009 Jul-Aug;31(4):216-24. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Feb 27.

The impact of maternal smoking on fast auditory brainstem responses.

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Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30324, USA.


Deficits in auditory processing have been posited as one of the underlying neurodevelopmental consequences of maternal smoking during pregnancy that leads to later language and reading deficits. Fast auditory brainstem responses were used to assess differences in the sensory processing of auditory stimuli among infants with varying degrees of prenatal cigarette exposure. Maternal report of consumption of cigarettes and blood samples were collected in the hospital to assess exposure levels and participants were then seen at 6-months. To participate in the study, all infants had to pass the newborn hearing exam or a clinically administered ABR and have no known health problems. After controlling for participant age, maternal smoking during pregnancy was negatively related to latency of auditory brainstem responses. Of several potential covariates, only perinatal complications and maternal alcohol use were also related to latency of the ABR responses and maternal smoking level accounted for significant unique variance after controlling for these factors. These results suggest that the relationship between maternal smoking may lead to disruption in the sensory encoding of auditory stimuli.

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