Smoking During Pregnancy Associated With Hightened ADHD Risk
It is no secret that smoking is bad for your health and smoking while pregnant presents dangers for both you and your child. But, a new study has found yet another way smoking during pregnancy could cause long-term problems for your children.
The study, published July 21 in the journal Pediatrics, says that children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy were at higher risks of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The findings also showed an increased risk of ADHD if their father smoked, but the risk was significantly more associated with mothers who smoked during pregnancy.
The researchers, led by Jun Liang Zhu, PhD,, of the Research Program for Children’s Mental Health at Aarhus University in Denmark, analyzed data on 84,803 children born in Denmark between 1996 and 2002.
The mothers of the children had been recruited for the study during pregnancy and participated in four telephone interviews, which included questions relating to their and their partners’ smoking habits.
Once the children had reached the age of 7, the parents were asked to fill out a follow-up questionnaire about the child’s health, development, and behavior based on established psychology assessments. This questionnaire included questions related to attention deficit and hyperactivity behaviors.
The researchers also had access to information through various national registries which included information on which children had been officially diagnosed with ADHD.
Overall, 2.4 percent of the children participating in the study had been diagnosed with ADHD or received ADHD medication at the point of follow-up.
The data showed that smoking among mothers and fathers increased the risk of an ADHD diagnosis or medication prescription for the children. Notably, a mother’s smoking habits were much more closely associated with ADHD than a father’s smoking.
After adjusting for demographic characteristics, children were 1.3 times more likely to have ADHD if their mother smoked than if they had been born to nonsmoking parents. The researchers also observed a slightly higher risk of ADHD associated with mothers who used nicotine replacement therapy while pregnant, however this risk was much smaller.
“Our findings suggest that exposure to prenatal tobacco smoke, possibly nicotine, may have a prenatal programming effect on the risk of ADHD in children,” the authors wrote.