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Smoking in Pregnancy Linked to Offspring Conduct Problems
Based on three studies, link seen in children reared by genetically related, unrelated mothers

THURSDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with offspring conduct problems among children raised by genetically related and genetically unrelated mothers, according to research published online July 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Darya Gaysina, Ph.D., from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used data from three studies to assess the correlation between maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring conduct problems among children raised by genetically related and genetically unrelated mothers. The studies included a longitudinal cohort study comprising biological and adopted children; a longitudinal adoption-at-birth study; and an adoption-at-conception study among genetically related and genetically unrelated families. Maternal smoking during pregnancy was quantified. Offspring conduct problems were assessed at age 4 to 10 years based on parent or teacher report and using behavior rating scales.

The researchers found that maternal smoking during pregnancy correlated significantly with offspring conduct problems for children reared by genetically related and genetically unrelated mothers. This pattern of findings was consistent in a meta-analysis of findings across pooled study samples.

"Our findings suggest an association between pregnancy smoking and child conduct problems that is unlikely to be fully explained by postnatal environmental factors (i.e., parenting practices) even when the postnatal passive genotype-environment correlation has been removed," the authors write. "The causal explanation for the association between smoking in pregnancy and offspring conduct problems is not known but may include genetic factors and other prenatal environmental hazards, including smoking itself."

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