Friday, January 09, 2009

Maternal smoking and aggression

A joint study by researchers in the Netherlands and Canada has found that women who smoke, particularly poorer women with a history of antisocial behaviour, are more at risk of having aggressive children. Aggression was defined as being quick to hit, bite, kick, fight and bully others. Mothers whose lives had involved anti-social behaviour and who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day had a 67% chance of having an aggressive child while those whose behaviour was just as bad but who smoked less had only a 16% chance of having an aggressive child. Heavy smokers who had a family income of less than $40,000 p.a. had a 40% chance of having an aggressive child compared to only 25% of non-smoking mothers with the same income. The gap was much less significant among mothers with higher incomes. Other risk factors were mothers who were under 21 and who coerced their children to behave. The effect of smoking on the children's aggression remained significant even after divorce, depression, maternal education and the mother's age during pregnancy were taken into account

Huijbregts et al - Maternal prenatal smoking, parental antisocial behavior, and early childhood physical aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 2008; 20 (2)

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