Moms' Second Hand Smoke Exposure Linked to Psych. Problems in Kids

While we've discussed the environmental impacts of smoking and programs that some have undertaken to combat those problems before, researchers at the University of Washington have concluded in a recent study that children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke while pregnant have more symptoms of serious psychological problems than the offspring of those women who had no prenatal exposure at all... In the current issue of Child Psychiatry and Human Development, UW psychologists Lisa Gatzke-Kopp and Theodore Beauchaine provided the first evidence linking moms' second-hand smoke exposure while pregnant to their children's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder after controlling for a variety of factors. And while many of us are familiar with the terms, the symptoms include aggressive behavior, ADHD, defiance and conduct disorder, which encompasses truancy, fighting, failing in school, general breaking of rules, substance abuse, stealing, and the destruction of property. Intriguingly, the same kids exhibiting these issues did not show an increase in the symptoms of emotional disorders such as depression or anxiety which this group of researchers couldn't explain. The compound that's suspected to be the causing the damage is nicotine, and animal studies have shown that it affects brain development during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, which causes changes in brain regions critical to the development of what researchers call "externalizing psychopathology" in humans. It looks to me like just one more good reason to stay as far from second-hand smoke as possible