Nicotine Exposure During Pregnancy Nearly Triples Risk of ADHD Among Offspring

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Researchers established a strong link between maternal nicotine use and rates of ADHD among offspring.

In a recent study, experts at the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry at the University of Turku measured maternal cotinine to research the association between nicotine exposure and ADHD in children.

Cotinine is used as a biomarker for exposure not only to active smoking, but to nicotine replacement therapy or passive smoking as well. The researchers used maternal serum specimens collected during pregnancy and archived by the national biobank to measure cotinine levels in mothers.

Observing 1,079 ADHD cases and an equal number of controls born between 1998 and 1999, Professor Andre Sourander, the leader of the research team, reported a strong correlation between nicotine exposure during pregnancy and ADHD among offspring in the article published by the journal Pediatrics.

Previous research, while in agreement with this finding, has been unable to provide a strong causal link between maternal smoking and ADHD rates because of familial confounding. Studies before this also relied on self-reported rates of smoking among mothers, which underestimates the true rate of smoking.

The study, supported by the Academy of Finland, the National Institute of Health, and a variety of other organizations, opens doors for future research related to maternal smoking and conditions among offspring.

Read more at Science Daily.