You may already have heard that smoking during pregnancy can cause various congenital disabilities, such as preterm babies, but did you know that it also increases the risk of having an ADHD child? This article discusses how maternal smoking affects brain development and leads to behavioral problems, particularly ADHD in newborns.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that impacts both children and adults. Children with ADHD tend to be inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive for their age. They also have difficulty mastering essential life skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. These symptoms can make it hard for them to succeed at school or engage socially, leading to other problems down the line. Adults with untreated ADHD are more likely than others to struggle at work because of issues related to focusing on tasks or trouble following directions from supervisors-not just when they’re young but well into adulthood as well!
How does smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of having a child with ADHD
According to the most recent research ( Chen et al. 2017), mothers who smoke during pregnancy have a higher chance of having children with ADHD than women who do not. The more cigarettes she smokes or, the earlier in her pregnancy she starts smoking, the greater this risk is.
The reason for this manifestation is not yet completely understood, but the nicotine found in cigarettes may be to blame. Nicotine plus other chemicals from cigarette smoke can pass through a mother’s bloodstream and into her baby’s body. (Obel et al., 2014)
The compound Nicotine interferes with brain development at critical times like early pregnancy or late fetal growth. When babies are exposed to too many potentially harmful chemicals before birth, they might develop brains that work differently than those born with mothers who didn’t smoke during pregnancy. The brain interferences could lead them to develop ADHD later on as children or adults!
Nicotine is not the only chemical present in cigarettes that can affect brain function. Other chemicals, like carbon monoxide and lead, may also play a role by changing blood flow through the placenta or drawing nutrients away from developing organs. These factors could be more detrimental than nicotine exposure alone. They equally contribute to more long-term problems with behavior, such as poor attention of children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. It’s still unclear exactly how these other chemicals might interfere with the normal development of the central nervous system. Still, one theory suggests they cause changes in areas deep within our brains — including those responsible for impulse control and focus — which could make the child act impulsively instead of pausing before we speak!
Smoking also increases stress levels and raises blood pressure — both of which can cause pregnant women problems throughout their pregnancies and make them less able to take care of themselves while growing another human being inside their bodies! These increased health risks lead to birth complications like placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall), preterm birth, and stillbirth, impacting a child’s mental or neurological health. Again, Mothers who smoke have higher anxiety levels than mothers who do not smoke or use other substances, suggesting that maternal anxiety may also contribute to a greater likelihood of developing an attention disorder like ADHD.
Prenatal smoking has been shown to cause a decrease in oxygen flow to the baby’s brain, leading to neurological difficulties after they’re born. The most common sign of a neurological problem in newborns is seizures. While these seizures aren’t life-threatening, research has found that babies who have them are more likely to develop ADHD later on than babies without them. (William et al., 2001)
Environmental tobacco is part of the equation
Environmental tobacco smoke can also affect developing brains, leading to behavioral problems (Kim et al., 2014). Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is the mixture of some that come from the tail of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by smokers.
Scientists believe that ETS exposure can lead to similar effects as prenatal smoking on ADHD symptoms in children exposed to prenatally or after birth because nicotine levels for these babies tend to be just as high! Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy have been found to have higher concentrations of cotinine — an indicator used when testing for environmental tobacco exposure – than those born with no maternal history of smoking. This research suggests that even if a mother doesn’t directly expose her baby to cigarettes, they may still get enough nicotine through their placenta or from being around others who smoke to affect their development!
The main message of this article is that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for ADHD in children. There are many reasons why mothers who smoke may have children with attention disorders. However, researchers believe it has to do with how chemicals from cigarette smoke interfere with brain development while babies are still in utero. Children exposed to too much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals before birth may develop brains that function differently from children whose mothers didn’t smoke during pregnancy. This act can lead to behavioral problems, which are often associated with attention disorders like ADHD.
While there’s no guaranteed way to protect your child from developing ADHD if you smoke during pregnancy, quitting before conception might work, but it isn’t always realistic. But knowing about these risks may help convince mothers who are thinking about continuing or starting to use tobacco products while pregnant. Try to pause long enough to reconsider their consequences. Doing so could significantly improve their chances of giving birth safely and help protect future children from developing a potentially debilitating condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If you are having difficulties quitting smoking or want more information about what it might mean for your child’s future health, talk to a doctor or therapist right away! Quitting is essential not just for yourself but for your growing baby as well. There are lots of resources out there to help you along the way. Thanks
How Second Hand Smoke Can Impact Your Child’s Mental Health
Chen et al. (2020). Maternal smoking during pregnancy and ADHD.
Obel et al. (2014). Parental smoking during pregnancy and ADHD risk.
William et al. (2001). Seizure occurrence in children diagnosed with ADHD.
Last Updated on October 5, 2021