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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Apr;33(5):1019-27. Epub 2007 Jul 4.

Prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking and the adolescent cerebral cortex.

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Brain and Body Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.


Smoking during pregnancy is associated with long-term consequences on offspring behavior. We measured thickness of the cerebral cortex using magnetic resonance images obtained in 155 adolescents exposed in utero to maternal smoking and compared them with 159 non-exposed subjects matched by maternal education. Orbitofrontal, middle frontal, and parahippocampal cortices were thinner in exposed, as compared with non-exposed, individuals; these differences were more pronounced in female adolescents. In exposed females, the thickness of the orbitofrontal cortex correlated negatively with a self-rated assessment of caring, one of the components of a model of positive youth development. These findings provide evidence of the long-term impact of prenatal environment on a neural substrate of cognition and social behavior.

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