Is smoking during pregnancy a risk factor for psychopathology in young children? A methodological caveat and report on preschoolers

Lavigne, J. V.; Hopkins, J.; Gouze, K. R.; Bryant, F. B.; LeBailly, S. A.; Binns, H. J.; Lavigne, P. M.

J Pediatr Psychol. 2010 May 21; 36(1):10-24


OBJECTIVE: While studies of the effects of prenatal smoking on child psychopathology have found positive relationships, most studies (1) failed to control for a range of correlates of maternal smoking that could affect children's behavior; (2) have been conducted with school-age rather than younger children, so it is not clear when such problems emerge; and (3) have not examined the effects on internalizing problems. METHOD: This study examined the effects of prenatal smoke exposure on behaviors associated with externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and negative temperament in a diverse community sample of 679 4-year-olds. RESULTS: After controlling for correlates that include socioeconomic status, life stress, family conflict, maternal depression, maternal scaffolding skills, mother-child attachment, child negative affect and effortful control, smoking during pregnancy was no longer associated with child behavior or emotional problems. CONCLUSIONS: Future studies need to control for a wide range of covariates of maternal smoking.

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