We can numbingly recite the dangers of smoking; however, new research indicates smoking during pregnancy may increase the baby’s chances for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is a life sentence for the child and its mother.
Today, thanks to the media, we are more aware of the problems associated with ADHD. Medical studies point out that these children often have trouble concentrating and are hyperactive and impulsive. While we may all have experienced these tendencies at one time or another, these children suffer on a day-to-day basis. They tend to be less compliant and more negative in interactions with authority figures and peers.
Because the umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline, when the pregnant mother to be smokes, she inhales carbon monoxide, reducing the amount of oxygen the baby receives and exposing the developing fetus to nicotine, which may cause hyperactivity. A 2005 study published in Pediatrics found of those mothers born with children born with ADHD, 59 percent were smokers. This same article found that smokers had almost three times the risk of giving birth to a child with a hyperkinetic disorder, including ADHD. This positive correlation, between smoking and ADHD is reason enough for pregnant women to quit smoking.
Yet as we know, because of nicotine’s addictive qualities, it can be extremely difficult to rid oneself of this toxin. Even if a pregnant woman cuts down the number of cigarettes she smokes, she is still exposing the baby to harmful chemicals, decreasing their intake of oxygen and increasing their heat beat and stress level. If a woman would like to quit before she becomes pregnant, she may want to set a date to quit and tell her family and friends. Having a support network helps the smoker to feel motivated and reminds her of her ultimate goal.
When a consenting adult decides to smoke, only that person feels the direct effect of the decision. When a pregnant woman, however, makes the decision to light up, her child may in turn, develop ADHD, instigating a lifelong struggle for them both. Now that more children are being diagnosed it is important to try and determine the roots of this disorder, and if at all possible, reduce the number of ADHD cases.
Article Resources: 1. Abnormal Psychology by Ann Kring. 2. “ADHD in children born to smoking mothers” The Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory & Application; Sep2005, Vol. 24 Issue 9, p9-9, 1/6p.