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Excerpts from Study: Smoking, Adult Crime Linked
By Tammy Webber, Associated Press [03/14/99]
Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy could be at a higher risk of growing up to be criminals, new research suggests.
Researchers say a study published in this month's Archives of General Psychiatry is the first to examine the relationship between mothers who smoke and their children's adult behavior.
The researchers -- from Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Southern California and the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Denmark -- found that more a quarter of the men whose mothers had the highest levels of smoking and delivery complications were arrested for a violent crime as an adult.
However, David Fergusson, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand, said there is not enough research to add prenatal smoking to the list of established risk factor for adult crimes.
The researchers based their findings on data for 4,169 males born in Copenhagen between September 1959 and December 1961.
The number of cigarettes their mothers had smoked during the third trimester of pregnancy affected the men's arrests for nonviolent and violent crimes as adults, even after factoring out other possible causes such as alcohol use, divorce, income and home environment, researchers said in the study, which was released Sunday.
Only one other risk factor -- delivery complications -- was found to be significant.
While stopping short of saying that babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant will become criminals, researchers say their findings are significant.
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