-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to women who
smoke during pregnancy are not at increased risk for autism,
according to a new study.
Smoking during pregnancy has been considered a possible cause of
autism in children due to known links between smoking and
behavioral disorders and obstetric complications, but previous
studies of a connection between smoking during pregnancy and autism
have had mixed results.
In this study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 4,000
Swedish children with autism and a control group of 39,000 children
without autism. The results showed that 19.8 percent of the
children in the autism group and 18.4 percent of those in the
control group had mothers who smoked during pregnancy.
The study was published online in December in the
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and will appear
in a upcoming print issue.
"We found no evidence that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders," study leader Brian Lee, an epidemiologist at the School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said in a university news release.
"Past studies that showed an association were most likely influenced by social and demographic factors such as income and occupation that have associations with both the likelihood of smoking and with the rate of autism spectrum disorders," he added.
Lee said the findings help reassure mothers who smoked during
pregnancy that their behavior likely didn't cause their child's
autism and "crosses off another suspect on the list of possible
environmental risk factors for ASD (autism spectrum
However, he reminded women that smoking during pregnancy is
unhealthy for mothers and has known risks for their children.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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