Aggressive behavior in preschoolers due to smoking during pregnancy
It seems that there is no end to the adverse health effects of cigarette smoke, especially on children. Just a few days ago, I posted on the behavioral effects of passive smoking on young children with asthma.
Another recent study reports that behavioral problems caused by smoking starts even earlier than previously thought – in the uterus. Previous studies showed that smoking during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and fetal defects. Now comes this additional risk – violent behavior. The findings were based on data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study and looked at 1,745 preschoolers aged 18 months to three and a half years old. Moms who are heavy smokers, who are younger than 21 and who coerce their kids to behave have a 40% risk of having aggressive children, “aggressive behavior” being defined as hitting, biting, kicking, fighting and bullying others.
Aside from maternal smoking, another parental factor that leads to aggressive behavior in young children are anti-social behavior of the mother as well as lower socio-economic status. Maternal smoking seems to have an aggravating effect on these factors.
A common complaint nowadays is that we live in a very violent society. A common explanation for violent behavior in children and adolescents is TV, the Internet and video games. It looks like parental factors, especially smoking, should also take some of the blame.