We already know that pregnant women should stay away from nicotine for the sake of their babies. A recent study focused on the adverse effects of prenatal nicotine exposure, especially when it comes to deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As it turns out, there is a connection between these two.
“We found, in a large nationwide sample that mothers who smoked during pregnancy, in particular, those who were heavy smokers, had offspring with a fairly high risk for ADHD,” explained senior study author Dr. Alan S. Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City. “That finding was after we controlled for a lot of potential variables that might account for the association.”
The study used the actual nicotine measurements in the blood of the mothers. The researchers used national databases from Finland, as those keep blood samples from future mothers. While most pregnant women stay away from cigarettes, there are also smokers amongst them who don’t quit.
Prenatal Nicotine Exposure Linked To ADHD
The study got its data from the Finish Maternity Cohort, which had serum samples from more than 950,000 women. Scientists looked at data on 1,079 children who were born between 1998 and 1999 and diagnosed with ADHD.
To discover the smoker mother to be, scientists tested the serum samples for cotinine. This substance is created when nicotine breaks down in the body. As it turns out, high cotinine levels increased the risks of ADHD in children.
“This is a valuable paper, and I think it will contribute to the literature in this field, first of all, by showing with a biological measure of serum cotinine levels as opposed to self-reports to measure prenatal nicotine exposure,” said Dr. Christopher Hammond, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.