Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pregnant smoking linked to childhood sleep problems

A new study gives soon-to-be moms another reason to butt out. Doctors across several U.S. cities combined efforts to look at how using various substances during pregnancy affected children’s sleep.

Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and opiates had no noticeable effects, but pregnant mothers who used nicotine products tended to have children with sleep problems.

Researchers regularly checked up on a group of 808 children throughout the first 12 years of their lives.

The authors did not reveal the exact percentage of children with sleep problems. Instead of counting the number of individuals who had sleep problems they created a scoring system to account for the combined conditions, including insomnia, sleepwalking, sleep talking.

After adjusting for external factors, like socioeconomic status, the authors discovered children exposed to nicotine scored highest. Children whose mothers smoked tended to have sleep problems from birth all the way to their 12th birthday.

One of the authors of the study told Reuters Health the findings should not be misinterpreted, all prenatal substance abuse is harmful. Smoking is unique because it happens so frequently.

She said researchers couldn’t find out the exact effects of nicotine during pregnancy because many of the mothers in the study used multiple substances while pregnant.

Perhaps not coincidentally, a past study found young boys with sleep problems were more likely to start smoking at an early age.

Image by Defekto

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