Smoking during pregnancy can cause behavioral problems in kids

pregnancy smoke

Several studies carried out in the past have found an association between smoking during pregnancy and behavioral problems in children. But these studies failed to rule out the influence of genetics and postnatal environment on the behavioral problems. Now, a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has again confirmed that smoking during pregnancy can cause behavioral problems in kids.

For this research, the researchers carried out a meta-analysis of three studies done in New Zealand, England and the US which questioned women about their smoking habits during pregnancy. The parents and teachers of kids of these women were asked to rate their child’s behavior when he was 4 to 10 years old. Problems like fighting with peers and difficulty in concentrating were inquired.  The higher the score, the more the number of behavioral issues the child faced. The behavior of children raised by adoptive mothers was also analyzed in a bid to rule out genetic and environmental influence on the behavior of the child.

It was observed that the score of the children whose mothers did not smoke while pregnant averaged around 99. But in case of women who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day during their pregnancy, the children faced more behavioral issues and got an average score of around 104. In case of children raised by adoptive mothers, when the researchers surveyed the biological mothers about their smoking habits during pregnancy, the results were much the same. This means that irrespective of hereditary and post natal environmental influence, smoking during pregnancy has a direct impact on the child’s behavior in later life.

The researchers have clarified that the environment in which a child is raised after his birth also has an important role in shaping up his behavior. But, the prenatal environment is also equally important.

Editor: Dr. Bimal Rajalingam MBBS DNB (Resp Med)

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Date: 
Saturday, July 27, 2013