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Smoking While Pregnant Leads to Children’s Behavioral Issues

Update Date: Jul 25, 2013 09:37 AM EDT

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths and contributes to several different types of cancers. Research studies have found mounting evidence that smoking is not only bad for the individual, it is also detrimental to the people in one's surroundings. All of these studies have suggested that in the presence of children especially, adults should avoid smoking. This warning also applies to pregnant mothers who smoke during their gestation period. In a recent study, researchers found that pregnant women who smoke increase the risk of having children with behavioral issues.

For this study, the researchers reviewed three previous studies, which provided a vast majority of data. The first study was the New Zealand's Christchurch Health and Development Study, which took data of biological and adopted children. The second study was the Early Growth and Development Study from the United States, which included children who were adopted at birth. The last study the researchers looked at was the Cardiff IVF study in the UK, which focused on genetically related and unrelated families.

The team, headed by Professor Gordon Harold and Dr. Darya Gaysina, both from the University of Leicester in the UK, recorded the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by the pregnant mother. The scores were zero, one to nine, or more than 10. The researchers evaluated reports that helped measure conduct issues in children between the ages of four and 10. For the children's measurement, a higher score indicated more behavioral problems. The researchers discovered that mothers who smoked an average of over 10 cigarettes daily had children who scored 104 on the assessment. Mothers who did not smoke had biological children who scored an average of 99 points on the behavioral conduct test.

"Our findings suggest an association between pregnancy smoking and child conduct problems that is unlikely to be fully explained by postnatal environmental factors, ie, parenting practices," the researcher explained according to WebMD.

The researchers added, according to HealthDay, "The causal explanation for the association between smoking in pregnancy and offspring conduct problems is not known, but may include genetic factors and other prenatal environmental hazards, including smoking itself."

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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