Smoking During Pregnancy Linked To Increased Autism Risk

Smoking during pregnancy is a stupid idea on many levels and now a new study suggests aside from what we already known about premature births, asthma related issues and other complications, smoking may increase the risk that your child is born with autism.

In the study Amy Kalkbrenner, assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health

“Autism is an umbrella term for a wide range of disorders that impair social and communication skills. What we are seeing is that some disorders on the autism spectrum, more than others, may be influenced by a factor such as whether a mother smokes during pregnancy.”

Despite warnings written on the back and front of cigarette packs and the various published findings regarding pregnancy and smoking complications 13 percent of mothers in the study admitted to continuing their bad habit throughout their pregnancy.

Doctors then used those admissions of guilt to cull data from birth certificates for thousands of children in 11 states. That information was then compared to a database of children diagnosed with autism that is currently maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDMN).

The study has found that of 633,989 children born with autism in 1992, 1994 and 1998, 3,315 had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 8.

Researchers are quick to point out that the study doesn’t necessarily mean smoking will cause autism however it does show a potential risk factor for the bad habit.

The CDC recently announced that 1 in 88 children are being diagnosed with various forms of autism.

You can find the groups full study published in the April 25, 2012 online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.