Smoking in pregnancy tied to kids’ conduct problems

WELL_gabby_3c_408

Children of women who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy are more likely to have behavioral problems than those whose mothers didn’t light up, says a new analysis.

“The evidence is emerging that smoking in pregnancy and the frequency of smoking in pregnancy is correlated with developmental outcomes after (children) are born,” said Gordon Harold, the study’s senior author from the University of Leicester in the UK.

Previous research has tied smoking cigarettes during pregnancy to behavior problems among children later on, but those studies couldn’t rule out the influence of other factors, such as genetics or parenting techniques, researchers said.

For example, Harold and his colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry that mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have parenting styles that condone acting out.

For the new analysis, the researchers pulled together data from three studies from New Zealand, the UK and the U.S. that asked women whether or not they smoked cigarettes during pregnancy. Parents and teachers then reported on children’s conduct problems – such as getting in fights or having difficulty paying attention – between age four and 10.

The analysis also compared children who were raised by adoptive mothers to children who were raised by their biological mothers in an effort to tease out the influence of genetics and parenting styles on any link between prenatal smoking and behavior.

The researchers compared children’s behavior scores to an average of 100, where higher scores indicate more conduct problems.

In studies that looked at women who raised their own biological children, those who didn’t smoke during pregnancy had kids who scored about a 99, on average, compared to a score of 104 among children whose mothers smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day.

That difference, according to Harold, would be noticeable in daily life.

Similar results were observed for children who were raised by adoptive mothers when researchers surveyed their birth mothers about smoking.

While the new study cannot prove smoking in pregnancy caused the behavior problems, Harold told Reuters Health it helps rule out some other potential explanations.

“It’s illuminating the prenatal period as having an ongoing influence on outcomes,” Harold said.

“We’re not saying life after birth is no longer relevant… Rather, both influences are clearly important,” he said.

Harold said there are a few explanations for why smoking may influence later conduct, including that babies of mothers who smoke may be born smaller or have impaired brain development.

In an accompanying editorial, Theodore Slotkin, a professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, writes that it’s undeniable that smoking while pregnant contributes to later behavior problems in children, based on the new study and past research.

He also told Reuters Health the concern goes beyond women’s own smoking.

“It’s one thing if mom is smoking, but what if mom is getting exposed from a partner or a smoking environment?” Slotkin said.

Harold said the new findings add to the reasons for women not to smoke while pregnant.

“Providing a healthy and safe prenatal environment, giving that child the best possible starting place, helps the child in the long term,” he said.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

National

Obama: Ukraine diplomacy holds hope but sanctions ready

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday talks between Russia and Western powers aimed at ending tensions in Ukraine have potential but that…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

Going Out

Tickets on sale for Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival…

It may be hard to believe but spring weather is finally just about here, which in Philly means festivals every weekend — including the annual…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.