Local News

Study Links Smoking Mothers with Children's Behavior

Posted July 14, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— There has been much discussion about the physical effects an infant can suffer when its mother smoked during her pregnancy. Now, a new study has made an astonishing link between smoking moms and their children'sbehaviors.

The study, of 177 boys over a six year period, reports pregnant women who smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes a day are more likely to have male children with behavior problems than women who do not smoke during pregnancy.

WRAL-TV5'sKelly Wrightwent to Wake County Medical Center to talk to doctors about the study and to pregnant women about their smoking habits.

Penny Jones of Wake Forest is expecting her second child. She is 40 weeks pregnant and is looking forward to delivering a healthy baby any day now, but there is cause for concern. Jones told Wright she still smokes cigarettes.

A half pack of cigarettes a day during pregnancy appears to cause conduct disorder in little boys. The latest issue of the Archives of Psychiatry shows the results of a six year study that concludes boys between age 7 to 12 are more prone to lying, setting fires, vandalism, physical cruelty and more if their mothers smoked during pregnancy.

Dr. Paul Morris of the Wake county health center says more study is needed. While he's against smoking, he says other factors could be obscuring the facts of this new study.

Wishing to take no chances with the risk factors, the center works extensively with pregnant women, advising them to stop smoking. Dr. Cathi Weatherly-Jones says pregnant women who smoke often find it difficult to quit.

Penny Jones also has a 2-year-old son. She said she smoked throughout her first pregnancy as well and the child appears to be fine. Hopefully when he turns seven he'll still be fine, and won't show symptoms of conduct disorder. Jones says she plans to quit smoking.