Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001 Page 7

Nicotine exposure, hyperactivity linked

Research consistently shows that the children of women who smoke during pregnancy exhibit increased rates of behavior problems, psychiatric problems, delinquency, and adult criminality (see related articles, Crime Times, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 1, Page 7, Crime Times, 2000, Vol. 6, No. 1, Page 7, Crime Times, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 3, Page 7 ). Adding to this evidence, a new study of rats shows that exposure to tobacco during early development may contribute to hyperactivity-a strong risk factor for criminal behavior.

Jennifer Thomas and colleagues exposed one group of rat pups to nicotine during a time frame comparable to the third trimester "growth spurt" of the human brain. During this developmental stage, they note, the central nervous system is highly vulnerable to insults.

The researchers compared the nicotine-exposed rats to two non-exposed control groups, and report, "Nicotine-exposed subjects were significantly overactive compared to both control groups." They add that the behavioral disturbances could not be attributed to weight differences between the groups.

"These results," the researchers say, "suggest that women who use tobacco products during late gestation may place their fetuses at risk for hyperactivity later in life, particularly during early adolescence."


"Nicotine exposure during the neonatal brain growth spurt produces hyperactivity in preweanling rats," J. D. Thomas, M. E. Garrison, C. J. Slawecki, C. L. Ehlers, and E. P. Riley, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Vol. 22, No. 5, Sept.-Oct. 2000, pp. 695-701. Address: Jennifer Thomas, Center for Behavioral Teratology, San Diego State University, 6363 Alvarado Ct., Suite 209, San Diego, CA 92120.

Return to:
[Author Directory] [Front Page] [Issue Index] [Subject Index] [Title Index]