This is a new study from the University of Turku in Finland. According to this study, a mother's exposure to nicotine could triple the risk for her child of having attention deficit disorder with / without hyperactivity (ADHD) later.
This is not the first time a study has shown a possible link between mother's smoking and her child's ADHD, but previous studies relied on the fact that the mother self-declared about her smoking, a measure that generally underestimates the actual rate of smoking, and even more so in pregnant women.
This time, researchers at the University of Turku measured the cotinine level in the blood of women who were in their second or third trimester. Cotinine is a biomarker that shows the mother's exposure to nicotine, whether it's her own smoking, second-hand smoke or even stamps. The higher the level of cotinine in the mother's blood, the greater the risk that her child would have ADHD later, the scientists said.
« This is a fact that has been known in the literature for some time, that exposure to cigarettes increases the risk for the child to present ADHD, commented the doctor Nancie Rouleau, a neuropsychologist from Laval University who is currently enjoying a sabbatical year to work at Harvard University. It is more likely that the child ends up with ADHD if the mother consumes a lot of nicotine, which is less the case for light drinks. But we are talking about an association, not a causal link. »
Indeed, one can simply, for the moment, note a link between smoking and ADHD, without being able to say that the first is the direct cause of the second. There is an association, nothing more. Dr. Rouleau raises several hypotheses about it. As a first step, she says, we know that a mother who smokes a cigarette is more likely to give birth to a baby of low weight or premature, which is " one of the biggest risks (of ADHD) currently ».
In addition, we know that people who suffer from ADHD and who are not treated are more likely to be consumers of alcohol, drugs or tobacco.
« So I ask myself: among those mothers who smoke cigarettes we have untreated ADHD mothers? asked Dr. Rouleau. So here we have a second causal link, genetics. Yes, the mother smokes, but she is mostly a carrier of genes that cause ADHD, and that has not been controlled here. »
That being said, pregnant women still have an interest in staying as far away as possible from nicotine products, whether for ADHD or for any other reason.
« It seems to me a quite logical recommendation to read the scientific literature currently. It's a harmful factor to be exposed to tobacco, even for a newborn baby Said Dr. Nancie Rouleau. The findings of this study are published by the medical journal Pediatrics.