Although researchers have long known that prenatal exposure to drug abuse can be very harmful…
Exposure to Prenatal Smoking May Lead to Psychiatric Problems in Childhood
New research shows that smoking during pregnancy not only can have lasting effects on the child’s health, but can also lead to psychiatric problems, increasing the need for children to take psychotropic medication.
Researchers from Finland discovered that adolescents whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were at a higher risk for needing to take psychiatric drugs, especially those used to treat depressions, ADHD, and addiction.
Mikael Ekblad, lead author of the study and a pediatric researcher at Turku University Hospital in Finland, and his colleagues collected data on maternal smoking, gestational age, birth weight, and Apgar scores for all children born in Finland between 1987 and 1989. In addition, they looked at whether mothers had been treated for psychiatric problems in an inpatient setting between 1969 and 1989, as well as whether their children used psychiatric medication.
The study discovered that 12.3 of the adolescents had been prescribed psychiatric drugs, and 19.2 percent of these were exposed to smoking while in the womb.
In those young adults whose mothers smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day during pregnancy, the rate of psychiatric medication was highest. The next highest were youths whose mothers smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, and the lowest were those who weren’t exposed to prenatal smoking.
Gender didn’t affect the risk, which also remained after adjusting for risk factors such as birth weight, Apgar scores, and maternal inpatient care for psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Ekblad noted that although the harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy are well known, it is still very common. He urges women to avoid smoking during pregnancy, since recent studies show that prenatal exposure to smoking can have negative long-term effects on the child’s health.
Source: Science Daily, Exposure to Prenatal Smoking May Lead to Psychiatric Problems, May 10, 2010