Kids apt to smoke if mom did while pregnant..

May 20, 2009 - Work presented May 19th at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference in San Diego. Lead researcher Dr. Roni Grad, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics: "If you are exposed to smoking prenatally or in the early years of life, you are much more likely to be a chronic smoker at the age of 22." Smoking while pregnant "biologically primes" the unborn child to become a regular smoker as a teen and young adult, according to a theory put forth by University of Arizona researchers.

Grad's team used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study to see whether a mother's smoking during pregnancy and during her child's early years affected whether the child smoked later on. The researchers assessed maternal smoking during pregnancy and when infants were 1.5 months and 1.5 years old and again when the children were 6, 9 and 11 years old. They then looked at the children's smoking behavior when they were ages 16 and 22. They found that women who smoked during pregnancy and during their children's early years were more likely to have kids who smoked at age 22. This proved true whether the mother smoked or did not smoke during the child's school years. In fact, these children are four times more likely to become regular smokers. The impact of early maternal smoking was not affected by whether the children's fathers smoked or by peer pressure during adolescence, the study found.

Grad added: "Nobody should smoke. I would definitely discourage any mother from smoking around her child. If children have been exposed in early life to smoke, I would really go the extra mile to try to keep them from experimenting, because they may be at higher risk of becoming nicotine dependent very quickly."

Reference: Scientists believe kids more apt to smoke if mom did while pregnant by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay, USA Today, 5/19/2009.

Related news brief: Poor children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than their wealthier counterparts.; Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy Alters Maternal and Fetal Thyroid Function..