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Dev Neuropsychol. 2009;34(1):1-36. doi: 10.1080/87565640802564366.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy and child outcomes: real or spurious effect?

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Department of Community Health, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) is a major public health concern with clearly established consequences to both mother and newborn (e.g., low birth weight, altered cardiorespiratory responses). MSDP has also been associated with higher rates of a variety of poor cognitive and behavioral outcomes in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, impaired learning and memory, and cognitive dysfunction. However, the evidence suggesting causal effects of MSDP for these outcomes is muddied in the existing literature due to the frequent inability to separate prenatal exposure effects from other confounding environmental and genetic factors. Carefully designed studies using genetically sensitive strategies can build on current evidence and begin to elucidate the likely complex factors contributing to associations between MSDP and child outcomes.

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