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No link between smoking and autism


A new study shows that there is no link between smoking during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorders in children. Other research hinted at an association, but it seems now that the link has more to do with socioeconomic factors than tobacco.

“We found no evidence that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders,” said Dr. Brian Lee, an assistant professor at Drexel University and head of an international research team. “Past studies that showed an association were most likely influenced by social and demographic factors such as income and occupation that have associations with both the likelihood of smoking and with the rate of autism spectrum disorders.”

They looked at a variety of chemical exposures in the environment during pregnancy and in children’s early life to see if there were contributing factors for the development of autism. Many other researchers have considered prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke a possible cause of autism because of its knows associations with behavioral disorders and obstetric complications.

During the research, they found incidence of autism higher with smoking mothers. However, once they adjusted for sociodemographic factors such as the parents’ income level, education and occupation, the risk association disappeared.

The new report will reassure mothers who smoked during pregnancy that their lifestyle choice did not affect the outcome of their children’s health. Lee said this research “crosses off another suspect on the list of possible environmental risk factors for ASD.” Still, smoking is not advisable during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. There are many known risks to children as a result of maternal smoking.

Source: ScienceDaily, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

photo by John Nyboer


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