Nicotine levels in newborn shock medical team

The child, weighing 2.4kg, had to be immediately placed on a ventilator as his health rapidly deteriorated

Representative image (Photo: IANS)
Representative image (Photo: IANS)


A seemingly routine birth at a hospital in Mehsana took a perilous turn when a newborn, delivered through a caesarean section, failed to cry and turned blue.

The child, weighing 2.4kg, had to be immediately placed on a ventilator as his health rapidly deteriorated.

In a desperate attempt to save his life, doctors transferred him to a tertiary neonatal hospital in Ahmedabad.

Initially presumed to be a case of asphyxiation at birth, the medical team discovered something unexpected.

The newborn's critical condition was attributed to extremely high levels of nicotine in his bloodstream, stemming from his mother's addiction to tobacco.

Shockingly, the child's nicotine levels were 3000 per cenr above the permissible levels for adults, measuring 60 ng/ml.

Expressing remorse, the mother reflected on her habits, saying, "In our village, both men and women regularly consume tobacco. I started consuming tobacco when I was 15. I never realized that the habit could jeopardize my child's health."

The child's father, also addicted to "mawa," vowed to quit the habit, recognizing the risks it posed to his family's well-being.

"When the child came to us, he appeared to be a healthy child who had fallen into a coma. While he was initially diagnosed with birth asphyxia, his symptoms did not align with typical cases, as he showed no signs of neurological damage." said Dr. Ashish Mehta, a senior neonatologist, who described the situation.

To unravel this medical mystery, the medical team delved into the child and mother's history. They discovered that the mother, unknowingly, had been exposing her fetus to high nicotine levels by frequently consuming tobacco in sachets or raw form, which she purchased from local pan shops.

She chewed tobacco approximately 10-15 times a day, unaware of the danger it posed to her unborn child.

Gujarat, known as the epicenter of oral cancer, grapples with the widespread addiction to chewing tobacco. According to the National Family Health Survey 5 conducted in 2020, 41 per cent of men and 8.7 per cent of women in the state consume tobacco.

Alarmingly, this addiction is now affecting newborns. After five days of treatment, the child showed signs of recovery and was discharged. Dr Mehta consulted international experts who emphasized the immense benefits of breastfeeding, advising the mother to abstain from tobacco while nursing.

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