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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2009 Aug;33(4):371-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2009.00410.x.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy predicts nicotine disorder (dependence or withdrawal) in young adults - a birth cohort study.

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School of Psychology, Griffith University, Queensland.



To investigate whether maternal smoking during pregnancy predicts offspring nicotine disorder (dependence or withdrawal) at 21 years.


Participants comprised a prospective birth cohort involving 7,223 singleton children whose mothers were enrolled between 1981 and 1983 at the first antenatal visit to the Mater Mothers' Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland. The present sub-cohort consisted of 2,571 youth who completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview-computerised version (CIDI-Auto) that assesses nicotine dependence and withdrawal according to DSM-IV diagnostic criteria at the 21-year follow-up.


12.8% of offspring met criteria for nicotine dependence and 8.5% met criteria for withdrawal. 16.6% met criteria for either dependence or withdrawal. Smoking during pregnancy resulted in offspring being more likely to have dependence or withdrawal at 21 years than offspring of mothers who never smoked (age adjusted odds ratio 1.53 (95% CI: 1.19-1.96).


Findings emphasise the long-term adverse effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy, including nicotine dependence in young adult offspring.


Public health approaches should strengthen arguments for mothers to cease smoking during pregnancy in view of the long-term health implications for offspring, and reinforce measures to help smokers among pregnant women and women of childbearing age to stop.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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