Study Shows Childen of Smoking Mothers Exhibit Early Behavior Problems
The findings from a study indicate that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy begin to show a pattern of behavior problems as early as 18-24 months of age.
Akinso: It's well known that a mother who smokes during her pregnancy is putting her child's health at risk. Now a study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that's just the tip of the iceberg. The findings from the study indicate that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy begin to show a pattern of behavior problems as early as 18-24 months of age. It is the first study to show a link between smoking during pregnancy and child behavior problems in the first years of life. Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director said this study tells researchers and scientists to take a closer look at how smoking during pregnancy affects a baby's development and behavior.
Volkow: What's really important in this story, that it can document so early on in the development significant differences by the fact of just exposure to nicotine during pregnancy. And the study then does highlight the relevance of the deliterious affects that exposure to nicotine may have to the developing brain. Which is something that we know is important because studies have shown a wider range for a wide variety of neuron-psychiatric diseases in these children but it's something that we haven't paid sufficient attention.
Akinso: Researchers also found that exposure to cigarette smoke was associated with disruptive social behavior in children. Dr. Volkow said this study highlights the importance of better understanding how prenatal exposure to nicotine affects the development of the fetal brain and how in turn this can disrupt behavior later on in childhood and adolescence.
Volkow: Basically in the study it was only children that have, in this cohort of those children that have behavioral problems, all of them have come from the group whose mothers have been smoking cigarettes; clearly providing the importance of instituting preventive measures to really get the women to stop smoking during pregnancy.
Akinso: Dr. Volkow said this study does not prove prenatal exposure to cigarettes causes behavior problems, but it does bring scientists closer to understanding how that exposure affects fetal brain systems that regulate behavior. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Nora Volkow