Friday, October 23, 2009

Smoking During Pregnancy Linked to Psychotic Symptoms in Children

As if women need yet another reason to avoid smoking during pregnancy, it has been found that mothers who do so put their children at a greater risk of developing psychotic symptoms when they become teenagers. This link was 84 percent more pronounced if the mother smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day on a regular basis.

Researchers from four British universities studied approximately 6,356 twelve year olds and interviewed them for any psychotic-like symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations. Approximately 19 percent of the children had mothers who smoked during their pregnancy. Just over 11 percent of the children, or 734 of the study group, had suspected or definite symptoms of psychosis.

Many of the previous studies have shown that cigarettes can harm the fetuses of mothers who smoke during their pregnancy. The risks include causing infants to be born with lower birth weight or heart defects, and expire due to sudden infant death syndrome.

Stanley Zammit, who is a psychiatrist at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine and also led the study, said that the more the mothers smoked, the more likely their children were to have psychotic symptoms. “We can estimate that about 20 percent of adolescents in this cohort would not have developed psychotic symptoms if their mothers had not smoked,” he stated.

Despite the countless number or studies that flag the risks to infants, it is estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of women in Britain still smoke during their pregnancy. The researchers also found that drinking while pregnant was associated with increased psychotic symptoms, but only in children whose mothers consumed more than 21 units of alcohol weekly during early pregnancy.

The reasons for the link between smoking during pregnancy and psychotic symptoms are not clear, but Zammit and his colleagues suggested that the exposure to tobacco in the womb could affect a child’s impulsivity, cognition, or attention. They said that more research would be needed to investigate how the exposure to tobacco in the womb affected children’s brains.

Only a few mothers in the new study, which was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, said they had smoked cannabis during their pregnancy, and this was not found to have any significant link with the psychotic symptoms in children.

Trying to quit smoking is one of the hardest things to do, but quitting has never been more important when you are pregnant. Even if you have tried before and failed, you can do it this time. Approximately 40 percent of all pregnant smokers manage to quit, which is a success rate that is far better than that of other smokers. This can lead to a healthier lifestyle for you and a healthier life for your baby.

1 comment:

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