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Pregnant smokers 'foster aggressive children'

Researchers in Canada have found a link between women who smoke during their pregnancy and aggressive offspring.
Researchers in Canada have found a link that suggests women who smoke during their pregnancy will have aggressive offspring.

While it has been well-documented that mothers who smoke during pregnancy risk putting their baby's health in danger, such as causing low birth weight, it has now been revealed that pregnant smokers could also have an effect on their child's behaviour.

The Canada-Netherlands study, published in the journal of Development and Psychopathology, found that the children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to be predisposed to violence and aggression.

Some 1,745 children between the ages of 18 months and three and a half years were studied as part of the research, with aggressive offspring characterised by their mothers as quick to hit, bite, kick, fight and bully others.

Researchers found that a history of antisocial behaviour was also a risk factor towards aggressive behaviour, which was exacerbated by smoking.

"Mothers-to-be whose lives have been marked by anti-social behaviour have a 67 per cent chance to have a physically aggressive child if they smoke ten cigarettes a day while pregnant, compared with 16 per cent for those who are non-smokers or who smoke fewer than ten cigarettes a day," said Dr Jean Seguin of the Universite de Montreal and Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, who co-authored the study.

"Smoking also seems to be an aggravating factor, although less pronounced, in mothers whose anti-social behaviour is negligible or zero."

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