Vol. 5, No. 3, 1999 Page 7

Maternal smoking during pregnancy again
linked to aberrant behavior

Yet another study, this one from Columbia University, points a finger at maternal smoking during pregnancy as a culprit in offsprings' psychiatric problems.

The previous issue of Crime Times (1999, Vol. 5, No. 2) summarized research by Patricia Brennan et al. showing that children of mothers who smoke during the third trimester of pregnancy are at significantly increased risk for nonviolent, violent, and persistent crime in adulthood. Earlier research by P. Rantakallio and colleagues in Finland found that individuals whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were twice as likely to have criminal records in young adulthood as control subjects were. And David Fergusson et al. found a strong correlation between maternal smoking and conduct disorders-a psychiatric term used to describe behavior problems including stealing, fire-setting, vandalism, and aggressive acts-in teenaged offspring.

Now Columbia researcher Myrna Weissman and colleagues have published a similar study showing that children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk for serious behavioral problems. The researchers compared 50 children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy with 97 children of non-smokers. Consistent with Fergusson's findings, the researchers found that among boys, maternal smoking during pregnancy quadrupled the risk of conduct disorder. Among girls, they report, maternal smoking during pregnancy increased the risk of drug abuse by more than five-fold. Even after the researchers controlled for factors such as divorce or parental psychiatric problems, these associations remained significant.


"Maternal smoking during pregnancy and psychopathology in offspring followed to adulthood," Myrna Weissman, V. Warner, P. J. Wickramaratne, and D. B. Kandel, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 38, No. 7, July 1999, pp. 892-899. Address: Myrna Weissman, Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, Div. of Epidemiology, 600 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032.

Related Article: [1999, Vol. 5] [2001, Vol. 7] [2001, Vol. 7] [2005, Vol. 11]

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