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Excerpts from Smoking mums recipe for tantrums
The Courier-Mail [01/08/99]
CHILDREN whose mothers smoked during early pregnancy are more likely to be aggressive and display delinquent behaviour when they grow up.
Mothers who smoke early in pregnancy are twice as likely to have children with behavioural problems than those who do not smoke – and the more the mother smokes, the higher the risk.
A longitudinal study, of 4879 five-year-old children whose mothers were patients at Brisbane Mater Hospital, looked at women who quit smoking before pregnancy; who continued smoking at the same level during pregnancy; and those who cut back during pregnancy.
"It has long been known that children whose mothers smoked early in pregnancy are more likely to be born premature, born with a low birthweight and these children might have developmental problems," study co- author Jake Najman said.
"What our research is doing is extending this to say these children are also the ones who fight with other children and some of the problems they exhibit are likely to be related to mothers smoking during pregnancy and the association is quite a strong association."
Professor Najman said he was confident of the accuracy of the figures because the research had been subjected to rigorous "statistical tests of significance".
"There are components in tobacco that cross the placenta and are likely to affect the development of the child. It is a terribly sensitive period when the child is developing its nervous system," he said.
"They are children who, for example, will fight with other children, who won't do what they're told and who throw temper tantrums and are likely to be more difficult to bring up."
To test the link between smoking and behaviour problems, researchers eliminated as many other explanations such as the mother's age at time of birth, education level, marital status, mental health history, employment status, the child's gender and presence of siblings so that they could compare smokers and non-smokers from similar backgrounds.
Dr Richard Roylance, a consultant paediatrician to Queensland Health, said the research was another "nail in the coffin" for companies who "allegedly" targeted young women as smokers.
"It is another pile of evidence to show how morally reprehensive an alleged campaign may be," he said.
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