Vol. 12, No. 3, 2006 Page 3&4


Two new studies strongly implicate maternal smoking as a risk factor for childhood learning and behavior problems, replicating earlier findings (see related article, Crime Times, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 4, Page 3).

In the first study, Karen Markussen Linnet and colleagues conducted a follow-up of 1355 children whose mothers' smoking habits were recorded during pregnancy. When the children were three, the researchers used parent questionnaires to identify symptoms of hyperactivity, distractibility, aggression, hostility, anxiety, and fearfulness.

"Compared with children of non-smokers," they report, "children born to women who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day had a 60% increased risk of hyperactivity and distractibility perceived by the parents." The findings remained true when the researchers controlled for several other lifestyle factors.

While Markussen Linnet and colleagues did not find a correlation between maternal smoking during pregnancy and hostility or aggression in children, a recent study by L. S. Wakschlag and colleagues did. Wakschlag et al. studied 448 boys participating in the Pittsburgh Youth Study and found that tobacco-exposed boys were significantly more likely to develop oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or to have combined ODD and ADHD, than other children. They also were more likely to develop delinquent behavior early in life.

The researchers conclude, "[E]xposure-related conduct problems appear to be characterized by socially resistant and impulsively aggressive behavior."


"Cigarette smoking during pregnancy and hyperactive- distractible preschoolers: A follow-up study," K. Markussen Linnet, C. Obel, E. Bonde, P. Hove Thomsen, N. Jorgen Secher, K. Wisborg, and T. Brink Henricksen, Acta Paediatrica, Vol. 95, No. 6, June 2006, 694-700. Address: K. Markussen Linnet, Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Paediatrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby Sygehus, Denmark.

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"Is prenatal smoking associated with a developmental pattern of conduct problems in young boys?" L. S. Wakschlag, K. E. Pickett, K. E. Kasza, and R. Loeber, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 45, No. 4, April 2006, 461- 7. Address: L. S. Wakschlag, Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60608, lwakschlag@psych.uic.edu.

Related Article: [2006, Vol. 12]

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