Quitting Smoking in Pregnancy Benefits Baby's Temperament

March 17, 2008

Quitting smoking during pregnancy reduces a mother's chances of giving birth to a baby with problem behavior, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

MONDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Quitting smoking during pregnancy reduces a mother's chances of giving birth to a baby with problem behavior, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Kate E. Pickett, Ph.D., of the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data on over 18,000 infants whose mothers were classified as pregnancy non-smokers, quitters and light or heavy smokers. Heavy smoking was classified as at least 10 cigarettes a day. The infants were assessed in terms of temperament, receptivity to novelty and regularity.

The lowest scores for easy temperament were found among babies whose mothers were heavy smokers, and babies of mothers who quit during pregnancy scored the highest, the investigators found. Smoking during pregnancy was also associated with low positive mood, while quitting during pregnancy was associated with lower risk of distress to novelty and irregularity.

"Pathways from pregnancy smoking to offspring behavior are complex and multi-determined. These findings suggest that both exposure and maternal characteristics associated with pregnancy smoking status contribute to offspring behavioral patterns," the authors write. "Enhancing understanding of these complex, multi-determined phenomena will importantly inform research on prevention and effects on offspring."

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