Parental cigarette use is 'double whammy' for children

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

A study in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology explored smoking, heavy drinking, and marijuana use across three generations. It found that the children of a parent who uses any of these substances are more likely to smoke, binge drink, or use marijuana in adolescence and adulthood. Drug transmission across generations, the study found, was for a general tendency to use these substances rather than to use any one specifically, with the exception of tobacco. The children of cigarette smokers face an especially murky future.

Data for the paper were drawn from two long-term studies in Seattle. Participants were recruited from Seattle elementary schools; 808 students have been followed since 1985. In addition to the participants, who make up generation 2, data were collected from their parents (generation 1) and their children (generation 3). The researchers found a transmission link across the three generations child behavior problems such as conduct disorder (getting into fights, stealing), attention deficit disorder (lack of focus, can't sit still or maintain attention), and oppositional defiant disorder (problems with authority). They found that the link between general substance use and childhood behavior problems held up even when they controlled for such variable social factors as marital status, education and neighborhood conditions. However, they noted the popular notion that the children of substance users are fated to grow up using drugs is wrong.

There is likely nothing here that surprises you. However, the study does paint a bleaker picture for the future of children exposed to these general behaviors than is the case for children unexposed to smoking, heavy drinking, and marijuana use. What do you think?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.