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Smoking in pregnancy tied to bad behavior in kids

December 2, 2009

I just had to pass on this story because the implications are immense. The news report below cites a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that concludes that smoking during pregnancy can be tied to bad behavior in kids. This is quite a statement! Read the article published by Reuters (Nov. 4, 2009), here.

Research Study

The news article reports that, “Dr. Kate E. Pickett, of the University of York, Hull-York Medical School and colleagues looked for ties between smoking in pregnancy and behavior and attention problems in more than 13,000 3-year-old boys and girls in the UK Millennium Cohort Study”. Among other findings, the researchers reported that

Persistent heavy smokers had a higher risk of having a boy with conduct problems than light smokers. For conduct problems in girls, any continuous smoking seemed to matter more than amount. Similarly, for hyperactivity-inattention problems both light and heavy smokers had similarly elevated risks compared to non-smokers

Questions

While it might be easy for us non-smokers to say, “See, I told you so”, the results also raise more questions.

  • If this research holds true, shouldn’t the rates of conduct problems and ADHD in America be decreasing?  Smoking is now banned from many public locations nationwide and one might guess that the numbers of smokers has decreased due to the negative peer pressure currently facing this group (I don’t have any stats to prove this, but it is a hunch).
  • If this research holds true, shouldn’t the rates of conduct problems and ADHD in countries with heavy smokers (such as China, Japan, or other Asian countries) be increasing or higher then in countries such as Canada or America with more restrictive smoking policies?
  • If this research holds true, why do we see conduct problems and ADHD in children whose parent’s/families don’t smoke?

I found this report interesting because it deals with behavior problems, but I’m not ready to accept that this is the one smoking gun problem for our students. We know that smoking poses serious long and short-term health risks for smokers and non-smokers alike, but I need to see more research before we can directly blame it for behavior problems.

What are your thoughts? Know any smokers with kids who behave badly?Technorati Tags: , , ,

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