In Utero Exposure to Smoking by Mother Can Increase Risk of ADHD

New risk of maternal smoking


Philadelphia, PA, May 23, 2007 – Women smokers who become pregnant have long been encouraged to reduce or eliminate their nicotine intake. A new study being published in the June 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry provides further reason to do so, as it presents new evidence that in utero exposure to smoking is associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) problems in genetically susceptible children.

The study investigated male and female twin pairs, aged 7–19 years, to assess the relationship between genetic variations, prenatal substance exposures, and ADHD sub-types. Rosalind Neuman, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors, explains the findings: "When genetic factors are combined with prenatal cigarette smoke exposure, the ADHD risk rises very significantly. When the child has either or both of two specific forms of dopamine pathway genes (DAT and DRD4), and was exposed to cigarette smoking in utero, the risk for having combined type ADHD (many inattention and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms) increased 3 to 9 fold."

John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, adds, "These data highlight a new risk of maternal smoking, increasing the risk for ADHD in their children. ADHD, in turn, increases the risk for substance abuse. Thus, it appears that in utero exposure to nicotine may help to perpetuate a cycle across generations that links addiction and behavioral problems."

The article is "Prenatal Smoking Exposure and Dopaminergic Genotypes Interact to Cause a Severe Subtype" by Rosalind J. Neuman, Elizabeth Lobos, Wendy Reich, Cynthia A. Henderson, Ling-Wei Sun and Richard D. Todd. All authors are from the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 61, Issue 12 (June 15, 2007), published by Elsevier.

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Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at (215) 239-3674 or ja.dawkins@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

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This international rapid-publication journal, the Official Journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, covers the whole range of psychiatric neuroscience. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials, generally invited by the Editors, which focus on topics of current research and interest, are also published rapidly.

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Media Contact:
Jayne Dawkins
Elsevier
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