You would be hard-pressed to find a pregnant woman under a doctor’s care in the United States who does not know that smoking during pregnancy can have long-term effects on the physical health of the child.
Now, according to new research featured in a release, prenatal smoking can also lead to psychiatric problems and increases the need for psychotropic medications in childhood and young adulthood.Science Daily
Researchers in Finland found that adolescents who have been exposed to prenatal smoking were at an increased risk for use of all psychiatric drugs, especially those that are used to treat depression, ADHD and addiction when compared with those who were not exposed.
“Recent studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy may interfere with brain development of the growing fetus,” said Mikael Ekblad in the Science Daily.
Ekblad is lead author of the study and a pediatric researcher at Turku University Hospital in Finland. “By avoiding smoking during pregnancy, all the later psychiatric problems caused by smoking exposure could be prevented,” he added.
In gathering information from the Finnish Medical Birth Register on maternal smoking, researchers analyzed data to find that 12.3 percent of young adults had used psychiatric drugs. Of those individuals, 19.2 percent had been exposed to prenatal smoking.
Researchers found that the rate of psychotropic medication use was highest in young adults whose mothers smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day while also pregnant at 16.9 percent. In a close second were youths whose mothers smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes a day at 14.7 percent and unexposed youths at 11.7 percent.
Smoking appeared to increase the risk for use of all psychotropic drugs, especially stimulants used to treat ADHD and drugs for addiction. An increased risk for use of drugs to treat depression was also seen.