As if more evidence was needed about the dangers of smoking while pregnant, researchers at Sam Houston State University in Texas have discovered a likely connection between prenatal smoking and behavioral problems in girls. The study, conducted to examine the cause of behavioral problems, used a sample of 1,600 twins across the country.
The study ended up coming to four distinct conclusions:
1. Genetic risk factors increase behavioral problems in children.
This seems to lend credence to the idea that bad behavior is indeed genetic. While researchers have yet to determine the specific genome that causes this issue, identifying that genetics is a key factor is an important step, and a first step towards offering a diversion from those behavior problems.
2. Prenatal smoking by the mother did not have a direct impact on behavior problems in children when not coupled with genetic behavior problems.
While perhaps this takes a bit of the wind out of the anti-smoking argument, it’s important to note that smoking alone did not see an increase in the child’s behavior problems.
3. Combining genetic predisposition with prenatal smoking produced the most profound increase in behavioral problems in children.
This indicates that the two factors, genetics and prenatal smoking, play off each other. Essentially what the study has revealed here is that prenatal smoking alone will not cause an increase in the chance of behavioral problems, but combine it with genetics indicating a likelihood of behavioral problems and adding in prenatal smoking increases the chances that the genetics will play out.
4. The increase gained in behavioral problems linked to genetics and prenatal smoking was linked only to female children.
This as well is an important item to take note of. It seems that more study will need to be done to determine why there was a significant difference between male and female children when exposed to both the genetic predisposition of behavioral problems and smoking. It’s also important to note that while this study didn’t indicate a significant increase in behavioral problems in males exposed to prenatal smoking and genetic predisposition, enough other evidence is present to deem smoking harmful to the fetus to determine it to be a significant risk.
The study seems to shed light on an important subject matter that should certainly lead to further studies. The researchers also would like to point out that this does not eliminate the children’s environment in attributing to behavioral problems, but rather provides evidence that it is both the environment and genetics that play a significant role.
Medical News Today