Pregnant women who use nicotine patches increase chances of ADHD in their babies

Recent study says the risk is higher with maternal smoking than with paternal smoking

By Sonalika Sinha
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015


It’s common knowledge that prenatal maternal smoking can be bad for babies. A recent study now suggests that women who use nicotine patches, or other nicotine replacement products, may have children with an elevated risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The study, led by Jin Liang Zhu of the Research Program for Children’s Mental Health at Aarhus University in Denmark, examined the association with maternal smoking and nicotine replacement use during pregnancy. They used association with paternal smoking as a marker of potential genetic or social confounding.

The researchers evaluated 84,803 singleton births and their parents’ smoking habits. The children were followed up for 8-14 years. During this time, the parents were asked to fill questionnaire about their children’s health, development and behaviour. The questions were related to ADHD. The researchers also had access to information from various national registries on which children had been officially diagnosed with ADHD.
Overall, 2.4 per cent of the children had been diagnosed with ADHD or received ADHD medication during follow-up. Results showed that children of mothers who used nicotine replacement during pregnancy had higher risk of ADHD.  It also showed that the association for ADHD was stronger for maternal smoking than for paternal smoking.

The study was published on July 21 in the journal Pediatrics.

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