I think by now it's an established fact that smoking while pregnant is bad for your baby. And since Nov. 18 is the Great American Smokeout, this new study seems appropriate to share.
According to the March of Dimes (and many other health agencies), women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, placental abruption, placenta previa or a stillbirth baby. Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to be born with birth defects such as cleft lip or palate, or to be born premature or underweight. These conditions put babies at risk for other serious health problems, including lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and learning problems.
This much you already knew, right? But I’ll bet you didn’t know that exposure to cigarettes in utero could set a baby up for a life of crime.
Researchers analyzed the health records of nearly 4,000 Rhode Island mothers who were pregnant in the 1950s and 1960s. They then compared these records, including those indicating whether or not the mother was a heavy smoker during pregnancy, with the criminal records of their offspring more than 30 years later.
What did they find? You guessed it. They found that the children of mothers who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day while pregnant were 31 percent more likely to have been arrested than those whose moms didn’t smoke during pregnancy. The children of heavy smokers were also 47 percent more likely to become repeat offenders. The study was published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, the association between smoking during pregnancy and criminal behavior held true for both girls and boys. It also held up when the researchers controlled for other things like socioeconomic status or the mothers' mental health.