Smoking When Pregnant Ups Risk Of Offspring With Schizophrenia

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald May 25, 05:00 am
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We know smoking causes cancer. But do you know why?

Researchers have found a link between smoking during pregnancy and increased risk for schizophrenia in children. Heavy levels of nicotine found in the mother's blood corresponded to a 38-percent increased chance of schizophrenia.

EurekAlert reported that the study "provides the most definitive evidence to date that smoking during pregnancy is associated with schizophrenia." It was conducted by researchers from the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute and from Finland.

Nicotine Easily Reaches Fetus

The researchers looked into 1,000 schizophrenia patients, comparing their birth and health records with the records of those without the illness. The smoking habits of the mothers were determined through the use of a nicotine marker called cotinine. Results showed a fifth of the mothers of the children with schizophrenia smoked heavily during their pregnancy compared to the other mothers.

The mother underwent blood tests during their first and early second trimesters of pregnancy. Metro reported that nicotine easily permeates the placenta easily and enters the blood vessels of the fetus. Nicotine causes neurodevelopmental problems for the fetus.

More Studies On Nicotine And Psychiatric Disorders

"These findings underscore the value of ongoing public health education on the potentially debilitating, and largely preventable, consequences that smoking may have on children over time," said senior researcher Professor Alan Brown, as per Daily Mail. Brown is from the University of Columbia, New York.

Brown was quoted as saying that more studies can reveal how exactly nicotine affects the brain of the fetus. The relationship of cotinine and other psychiatric disorders was also mentioned as another topic of interest for further study. Brown and his colleagues had previously conducted a study that revealed that children of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy were more likely to have bipolar disorder.

What do you think of this latest study on the ill effects of smoking? Share your thoughts below.

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