Smoking during pregnancy increases child's risk of substance abuse, more

Posted: 6/21/2013

From Medical Daily:

Pregnant women are often warned to stay away from drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol during pregnancy. But when a mother's addiction is too strong, her child can suffer dire consequences.

The March of Dimes, an initiative begun 75 years ago to ensure the health of all newborns, warns mothers against smoking during pregnancy, as they are more likely to have children with birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that smoking leads to pregnancy complications, premature births, and stillborn children.

Nicotine and other drugs work on the brain's pleasure centers, stimulating them and creating feelings of ease and calm in users. However, when a mother uses a drug like nicotine, both her and her baby's pleasure centers are being stimulated. To have such high amounts of stimulation in pleasure centers in the brain before birth should have some effect on the child's life afterward.

A new study indicates that exposure to maternal cigarette smoking, while it may cause defects and poor health, can also cause an altered state of reward processing in children, especially in their teen years. Read more.