Study Explores Link Between Smoking During Pregnancy, Autism

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by runawaybunny, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    Women who smoke in pregnancy may be more likely to have a child with high-functioning autism, such as Asperger's Disorder, according to preliminary findings from a study by researchers involved in the U.S. autism surveillance program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "It has long been known that autism is an umbrella term for a wide range of disorders that impair social and communication skills, says Amy Kalkbrenner, assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, lead author of the study. 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.

    Smoking during pregnancy is still common in the U.S. despite its known harmful impacts on babies. Kalkbrenner found that 13 percent of mothers whose children were included in the study had smoked during pregnancy.

    Kalkbrenner and colleagues population-based study compared smoking data from birth certificates of thousands of children from 11 states to a database of children diagnosed with autism maintained by the CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDMN). Of the 633,989 children, born in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998, 3,315 were identified as having an autism spectrum disorder at age 8.

    The study doesn't say for certain that smoking is a risk factor for autism, Kalkbrenner says. But it does say that if there is an association, it's between smoking and certain types of autism, implicating the disorders on the autism spectrum that are less severe and allow children to function at a higher level. That connection, she adds, needs further study.

    April is Autism Awareness Month, and several studies of possible links between environmental factors and autism are being published by Environmental Health Perspectives at the same time as Kalkbrenner's study. The CDC recently released data indicating that 1 in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, making such environmental studies even more timely, says Kalkbrenner.

    Because autism involves a broad spectrum of conditions and the interplay of genetics and environment is so complex, no one study can explain all the causes of autism, she adds. The goal of this work is to help provide a piece of the puzzle. And in this we were successful.

    In addition to lead author Kalkbrenner, co-authors include: Joe Braun, Harvard School of Public Health; Maureen Durkin, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health; Matthew Maenner, Waisman Center at UW-Madison; Christopher Cunniff, University of Arizona College of Medicine; Li-Ching Lee, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Sydney Pettygrove, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona; Joyce Nicholas, Medical University of South Carolina; and Julie Daniels, UNC Gillings School of Public Health.

    Other articles published in Environmental Health Perspectives online show that polychlorinated biphenyls disrupt early brain development by interfering with the signals that promote normal neuron branching. A review article suggests research directions for exploring a potential link between pesticides and autism. An editorial calls for increased discovery research to identify possible environmental causes of autism in America's children.

    Story Source:
    The above story is reprinted from mate
    rials provided by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    Study Reference:
    The study was published online by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. For a pdf of the study, go to:

    This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ConductDisorders or its staff.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Well, that's one more risk factor I can cross off my list for Bean... :bigsmile: And one more thing that makes me wonder about Jett.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Finally, a "smoking while pregnant" study I resemble.

    However, I propose that these smoking mothers were self-medicating spectrum traits with their nicotine. I resemble that statement as well.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Hmmmm, Keista... You bring up a very intriguing theory!
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Yay one more thing ex will throw in my face.
  6. keista

    keista New Member

    Just throw back my theory. Even if you had quit, you have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) so she would have gotten it anyway.

    IOW Step, if "traits" are an issue for you, or whatever you were self medicating for with those smokes, bean may not be in the clear for.

    To me, that just makes a lot more sense than the actual smoking causing autism.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    "There are three kinds of lies... lies, d**medication lies, and statistics".

    That's the problem with stats. You can tell all sorts of interesting stories with stats. But... prove cause and effect? Nope.

    I haven't searched in the last couple of years, but I spent YEARS trying to find answers under every rock there was. And I haven't run into a study yet that starts with any form of addiction (legal or otherwise) and tracks that back to find the base causes... now, THAT would be interesting.

    Keista... wanna become a PhD researcher??? It's your theory...
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Insane, I really should have. Maybe someday.

    Most definitely, but that can't always be identified - even in hindsight. Like I can tell you that I did start smoking to "be cool" and to fit in and try to get acceptance, but I cannot tell you why I continued smoking. I can't tell you what physiological part of me it appealed to. I quit smoking two months ago, and I still can't tell you specifically what part of me I was medicating with those things. I know my personality is a bit different now, but is that an effect of withdrawal or what I was self medicating?

    My problem as far as research is concerned? I can ALWAYS come up with another question or another variable - Even if I was the one setting it up.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Keista! THAT is the whole point of research. Not to find "the" answer... because there isn't an answer to the level of "the answer". There's some parital answers... and more questions.

    Which is why you get your PhD. You get to KEEP asking questions!