Anti-social behavior linked to smoking

Feb. 3, 2009 at 3:42 PM
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CARDIFF, Wales, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A Cardiff University study found a link between anti-social behavior in children whose mothers smoked in pregnancy.

The scientists at the University's Schools of Medicine and Psychology examined the records of 779 children born by in-vitro fertilization whose prenatal environment was provided by either a related mother or an unrelated mother.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found a link between anti-social behavior in children whose mothers smoked in pregnancy but only when the mother was genetically linked to the child.

When the child came from a donated egg and donated embryo -- egg or embryo donation or surrogacy -- there was no link, suggesting factors other than smoking during pregnancy influence anti-social behavior.

"What we have been able to confirm is that cigarette smoke in pregnancy does lower birth weight regardless of whether the mother and child are genetically related or not, but the link with children's behavior is different," principal investigator Anita Thapar said in a statement.

"It is now clear that offspring anti-social behavior is more dependent on inherited factors passed from mother to child, as our group of children with mothers who smoked during pregnancy with no direct genetic link showed no increased signs of anti-social behavior."

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