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Smoking While Pregnant May Raise Psychiatric Risks in Kids
Date:5/4/2010

Study found the more cigarettes a woman smoked, the greater the chances

TUESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- A woman who smokes while pregnant increases her baby's risk of developing psychiatric problems in childhood and young adulthood, a new Finnish study suggests.

While there's plenty of evidence that smoking during pregnancy puts unborn children at risk for long-term health problems such as asthma, ear infections and respiratory disease, this research is among the first to find a connection between prenatal smoking and an increased risk for mental illnesses, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression, in the mother's offspring.

Researchers at Turku University Hospital in Finland analyzed the birth records of more than 175,000 Finnish children born in the late 1980s, as well as their use of psychotropic medications as children and young adults.

Children exposed to prenatal smoking were 32 percent more likely overall to have taken a psychiatric drug than children whose mothers didn't smoke during pregnancy, the researchers found. The risk was even higher in the offspring of women who smoked more than a pack a day while pregnant. Their kids were 44 percent more likely to use psychiatric drugs than children whose moms didn't smoke.

Study author Mikael Ekblad said animal studies have shown that prenatal nicotine exposure interferes with the development of fetal brain cells. "In our previous study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in February 2010, we found that prematurely born infants exposed to prenatal smoking had smaller frontal and cerebellar brain volumes than the unexposed infants. These brain regions are important for normal cognitive development," said Ekblad, a medical student and pediatric researcher.

The researchers collected data on all children born in Finland from 1987 through 1989. In addition to information about maternal smoking, they looke
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