Researchers at University of Leicester in Britain have found that children of mothers who had smoked during their pregnancies were more likely to develop behavioral problems compared to those whose mothers did not smoke.
The researchers made use of the data from studies conducted in the US, UK and New Zealand that asked the participants whether or not they smoked cigarettes during pregnancy. The researchers then asked both the parents and the teachers to report on the children's conduct problems, such as whether they had problems paying attention or got into fights, when they were between four and 10 years of age.
In order to negate the influence of genetics and parenting styles, the researchers compared them with children who were raised by adoptive mothers. The researchers compared the children's behavior to an average score of 100 with higher scores indicating more problems. The researchers found that children born to parents who did not smoke during pregnancy scored an average of 99 compared to an average of 104 among children of parents who did smoke during their pregnancies.
"The evidence is emerging that smoking in pregnancy and the frequency of smoking in pregnancy is correlated with developmental outcomes after (children) are born. It's illuminating the prenatal period as having an ongoing influence on outcomes. We're not saying life after birth is no longer relevant. Rather, both influences are clearly important", lead researcher Gordon Harold said.