More Evidence That Smoking Moms Have Smoking Kids
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US researchers said on Tuesday they had found more evidence that the children of women who smoke while pregnant may be predisposed to try tobacco at an early age.
Marie Cornelius and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said nicotine and other tobacco products are known to cross the placenta, and their survey suggests that it may somehow affect the brain of the fetus.
``The role of prenatal tobacco exposure has been largely overlooked as a risk factor for the development of tobacco use among youth,'' Cornelius said in a statement. ``Our findings indicate that fetal exposure to tobacco may have a significant impact on early initiation of tobacco use in children.''
Smoking during pregnancy is known to have a range of effects on children, from making them prone to conduct disorder, language and reading difficulties to affecting their lung function in later years. Studies have also suggested that the children of smokers may also be themselves more likely to smoke.
Cornelius and colleagues asked 589 10-year-olds if they had ever used tobacco. More than half the children they questioned had mothers who smoked an average of 15 cigarettes a day during pregnancy. Only 6% of the children said they had experimented with tobacco, but these 37 children were significantly more likely to have been exposed to tobacco products in the womb, they reported in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. ``The other significant predictors of tobacco experimentation were peer tobacco use, child delinquency, maternal depression and child depression,'' Cornelius said.
Most of the children who had tried tobacco said they had only tried it once.Cornelius said studies done on rats and other animals suggests smoking can affect the brains of developing fetuses.
``The resulting central nervous system damage may later be expressed as impulsivity, inattention, aggression, depression and/or anxiety and may create a vulnerability in the child that could contribute to poorer adjustment and a greater likelihood of early initiation of tobacco use,'' she said.
Researchers have found that 20% of U.S. women admit to smoking during pregnancy, despite warnings of its dangers.