Washington D.C., Sept. 29 (ANI): A new study has revealed that early exposure to tobacco is associated with a risk of behavioural disorders in children.
According to researchers from Inserm and Pierre and Marie Curie University, the association was stronger when exposure took place both during pregnancy and after birth.
Lead researcher Isabella Annesi-Maesano said that exposure to of (environmental tobacco smoke) ETS in the postnatal period, alone or in association with exposure during pregnancy, increased the risk of behavioural disorders in primary school children.
In the study, rescuers targeted 5,221 primary school children from six cities. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke in the home was assessed using a standardised questionnaire completed by the parents.
Behavioural disorders were assessed via the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) used to assess the behavioural and psychosocial functioning of the children, which was also completed by the parents.
The results showed that emotional disorders were associated with exposure to ETS during both the prenatal and postnatal periods, which concerns 21 percent of the children in the study.
Conduct disorders were also associated with ETS exposure in these children. The association also exists in cases of prenatal or postnatal exposure alone.
These observations seem to confirm that the nicotine contained in tobacco smoke might have a neurotoxic effect on the brain. During pregnancy, nicotine in tobacco smoke stimulates acetylcholine receptors, and causes structural changes in the brain.
In the first months of life, exposure to tobacco smoke generates a protein imbalance that leads to altered neuronal growth.
Isabella said that their data indicated that passive smoking, in addition to the well-known effects on health, should also be avoided because of the behavioural disorders it might cause in children.
The study is published in the Journal PLOS ONE. (ANI)