Study Confirms Link Between Tobacco and Behavioral Problems

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Tweens

Are some cases of ADHD caused by exposure to cigarette smoke before birth?
Credit: Paraschiv Alexandru, Flickr.

German scientists have found evidence of a link between exposure to tobacco smoke during early development and abnormal behavioral symptoms (including conduct problems, hyperactivity and problems in peer relationships) that surface by age 10.

"Adverse effects of prenatal and postnatal tobacco exposure have been reported to be associated with behavioral problems" in the past, the study explains. But "the magnitude of the association with tobacco exposure at specific periods" was unclear before this new analysis.

The study used data from the GINI-plus Prospective Birth Cohort Study to assess the relative risk of behavioral problems in children who had been exposed to tobacco smoke in utero and after birth. The results indicated that exposure to tobacco smoke was especially detrimental in utero, but even those exposed to it only after birth had a higher risk of abnormal behavior than kids who weren't exposed.

"Compared with children not exposed to tobacco smoke, children exposed both pre- and postnatally to tobacco smoke had twice the estimated risk of being classified as abnormal," the study concludes. Children exposed only prenatally had a 90 percent higher relative risk and those exposed only postnatally had a 30 percent higher relative risk.

These results, the researchers say, could not be explained by parental education, father's employment, child's time spent in front of a computer or TV screen, being raised by a single parent or mother's age.

The study, appearing in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives, may serve as inspiration for parents or grandparents attempting to quit smoking.

Related: Take AOL's smoking survey


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