New Study On Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy has a number of negative effects on both the mother and her baby, but recent research has tied prenatal cigarette smoking to conduct and behavior problems in children.

Woman breaking a cigarette

It’s hard to quit smoking, even when you’re expecting a baby, but experts have long urged pregnant women to break the habit. Now, new research might give moms-to-be even more reason to stop smoking. The study, which took data from New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S.,  found that smoking during pregnancy is related to negative developmental outcomes after the children are born.

Making the connection

Prior research has shown a correlation between maternal smoking and behavior problems, but those studies couldn’t rule out other factors that could affect a child’s behavior, such as genetics or parenting techniques. This new research examined the data that asked women about their smoking habits during pregnancy, and then asked about their children’s behavior (between ages 4 and 10) and potential conduct problems, such as difficulty paying attention or getting into fights.

They also looked at kids who were raised by adoptive parents and compared them to those raised by biological mothers to see if genetics and parenting style had an effect on the children’s behavior.

The researchers then scored the children’s behavior and found that kids of non-smokers averaged around a 99, and kids of moms who smoked 10 or more cigarettes during pregnancy each day had an average score of 104. Similar results were found in adoptive parents whose birth mothers smoked during pregnancy. The conclusion was that this difference would be noticeable during daily life.

Another reason to stop smoking

This is just another reason for pregnant moms to give up smoking. It’s so hard to do so, so if you’re having trouble quitting, see if your care provider can help you drop the habit. You should also urge other family members who smoke around you to give up the habit too, or at least start smoking outside.

"Providing a healthy and safe prenatal environment, giving that child the best possible starting place, helps the child in the long term," said Gordon Harold, the study's senior author from the University of Leicester in the U.K.

More on smoking and health

Babies of pregnant smokers can benefit from vitamin C
Study finds cigarette smoke increases SIDS risk
Can the nicotine patch cause colic in your baby?


recommended for you