ADHD News & Research

Mother’s Prenatal Smoking Is a Risk Factor for ADHD

The body of evidence grows: prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke is linked with more symptoms of attention deficit.

June 11, 2014

Growing evidence suggests that smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk for developing attention deficit in children.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed on young adults (25 years) who had been followed since birth to examine the effect of prenatal tobacco smoke exposure on neural activity, such as poor inhibitory control.

Lifetime ADHD symptoms were measured over a period of 13 years (from two to 15 years of age). The study included 178 mothers (140 of whom were nonsmokers), and 175 offspring for whom ADHD symptoms were measured throughout childhood.

Individuals prenatally exposed to tobacco smoke exhibited less activity in regions of the brain in response to tasks that measured inhibitory control versus neutral stimuli. The group prenatally exposed to tobacco smoke also exhibited more lifetime ADHD symptoms.