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Prenatal nicotine exposure may lead to ADHD in future generations
Date:3/5/2014

passed along to the next generation, Bhide and Zhu were curious about a proven link between prenatal nicotine exposure and hyperactivity in mice.

Their work at the Center for Brain Repair has included extensive research around ADHD, a neurobehavioral disorder affecting about 10 percent of children and 5 percent of adults in the United States. Researchers have struggled to produce a definitive scientific explanation for a spike in ADHD diagnoses in the last few decades.

"Some reports show up to a 40 percent increase in cases of ADHD in one generation, basically," Bhide said. "It cannot be because a mutation occurred; it takes several generations for that to happen."

One possible contributing factor, though unproven, is that the current spike in ADHD cases correlates in some manner to an increase in the number of women who smoked during pregnancy as cigarettes became fashionable in the United States around the time of World War II and in the decades that followed.

"Other research has shown a very high correlation between heavy smoking during pregnancy and the incidence of kids with ADHD," Bhide said.

"What's important about our study is that we are seeing that changes occurring in my grandparents' genome because of smoking during pregnancy are being passed to my child. So if my child had ADHD it might not matter that I did not have a disposition or that I never smoked."

Bhide cautions that the work, though conclusive, is based on a study in mice, which have served as a proxy for human phenotypes.

"It's not that every child born to a mother who smokes has ADHD, and it also isn't true that every person with ADHD will transmit the genetic material responsible," he said.

"But our work has opened up new possibilities. The next question is how does transmission to future generations happen? What is the mechanism? And the second question is, if the individual is treated successfully would that stop the
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Contact: Doug Carlson
doug.carlson@med.fsu.edu
850-645-1255
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert

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