ADHD Risks and Prenatal Smoking

Smoking Prevention Tips to Decrease the Risks of ADHD

Posted Dec 25, 2014

Given the high rate of diagnosis in children, it is important to better understand what factors may prevent children from developing ADHD. Recent research studies have shown that prenatal exposure to smoking may play a major role in children developing ADHD later during childhood.  For example, data from the CDC notes: prenatal exposure to smoking is associated with disruptive behavioral disorders in children, including ADHD, ODD, and CD.  However, some limitations of the research include the data being mixed for the relationship between prenatal exposure to smoking and other neurobehavioral disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, depression, and intellectual disability). In light of the limited research, it is unclear how smoking may lead to behavioral disorder. Therefore more research is needed to clarify the connection between smoking and ADHD.

What can be done to reduce risks? 

Although developing ADHD may be one outcome of smoking during pregnancy, there are other negative outcomes of smoking such as premature delivery, physical disability, and other medical diseases (CDC, 2014).  According to the CDC, healthcare providers also play an important role to educate women about smoking and to encourage them to stop smoking during pregnancy.  

For expecting mothers or those who want to stop smoking, there are several ways to get help. Psychologists or health psychologist may be one additional professional who can assist with behavioral strategies and increased social support to help quit smoking. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that psychologist have been involved in tobacco control since the 1960’s.  Treatments are available that helps to identify situations, thoughts and behaviors that spur quitting or relapse  (APA, 2014).  Additionally, psychologist can help individuals learn to substitute positive coping strategies such as relaxation techniques or reframing negative thoughts that would normally provoke smoking.

© Copyright 2014 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.

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American Psychological Association 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

National Institute of Mental Health

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