Study Links Smoking During Pregnancy to Baby’s Schizophrenia

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By Alan Mozes
HealthDay ReporterFRIDAY, May 27, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk that a child could develop schizophrenia, new research suggests.”This is, so far, the largest study to show an association between prenatal nicotine exposure and schizophrenia,” said study author Dr. Solja Niemela. She is a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at the University of Oulu, Lapland Hospital District, in Rovaniemi, Finland.Although the study didn’t prove cause and effect, the finding is the first to be based on blood sample analyses that provided evidence of nicotine exposure in the womb, rather than on less reliable maternal recollections of smoking behavior, Niemela added.Still, she added that “the causes of schizophrenia are multifaceted.””It is likely that prenatal smoking exposure alone does not cause schizophrenia,” said Niemela. “Rather, there is [probably] an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.”Niemela and her co-authors from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and the New York State Psychiatric Institute reported the results in the May 24 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.Prior research had indicated that between 12 percent and 25 percent of all pregnant women in Western nations smoke, the investigators said.The problem: Once absorbed by the mother-to-be, nicotine can pass easily into the placenta and enter the fetus’ bloodstream. This can raise the risk of a host of complications that could affect a newborn’s brain, the researchers said.But earlier efforts to assess the dangers that maternal smoking might pose for schizophrenia among children have been inconclusive, the researchers said.The new investigation focused on nearly 1,000 Finnish teens and young adults who…

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