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Smoking During Pregnancy May Augment the Chances of Autism in Children

Researchers claim that children might suffer from high functioning autism if their mothers resorted to smoking during pregnancy.


Professor Amy Kalkbrenner, the lead author from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health stated, “It has long been known that autism is an umbrella term for a wide range of disorders that impair social and communication skills.”


She further added, “What we are seeing is that some disorders on the autism spectrum, more than others, may be influenced by a factor such as whether a mother smokes during pregnancy.”


Kalkbrenner along with her team members conducted a population-based study where smoking data from birth certificates of about 633,989 kids was compared. These children belonged to 11 different nations and were born in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998. The study was published online in Medical daily.


The study findings showed that about 13 percent of the mothers involved in the study had smoking records while they were pregnant. 11 percent of the 3,315 children who were recognized with autism spectrum disorder at the age of eight belonged to those mothers who resorted to smoking during pregnancy.


The experts also discovered that these kids had more chances of having high-functioning autism, such as Asperger’s Disorder.


Kalkbrenner mentioned, "The study doesn't say for certain that smoking is a risk factor for autism. But it does say that if there is an association, it's between smoking and certain types of autism."


Every time a pregnant woman smokes a cigarette, the toxic and harmful chemicals enter into her blood circulation and into the child’s blood stream. This hampers the oxygen and nutrient supply to her baby. The overall development of the baby is affected.


Smoking during pregnancy increases the probability of having miscarriages, stillbirths, low weight babies and premature births.


Smoking during pregnancy can also result in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and congenital birth defects such as cleft palate, ear infections or even asthma.


Kalkbrenner stated that autism included a wide-ranging spectrum of circumstances that are catalyzed by a combination of environment and genetics. She finally concluded, "The goal of this work is to help provide a piece of the puzzle. And in this we were successful."

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