Does Smoking During Pregnancy Cause Autism?
Smoking while pregnant is known to be associated with various risks to both mother and baby. One of the more salient topics of debate on the subject is whether or not smoking during pregnancy can cause autism.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the person’s ability to interact and communication with people around them. People with autism can experience difficulty in areas of language, fine motor skills, playing and employment.
What Is the Evidence That Smoking During Pregnancy Leads To Autism?
There is some evidence that smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism. A study from 2016 has demonstrated that women who smoke during pregnancy had a greater risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder than women who had never smoked. The study showed that the rate of autism spectrum disorder was 50% higher in the group of children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy than the group whose mothers had never smoked.
Other studies have found similar results, with a higher risk of autism in the children of women who smoked while pregnant. However, the results are still inconclusive, meaning more research needs to be done to be able to draw firm conclusions.
Factors To Consider?
When considering the evidence that smoking during pregnancy can cause autism, there are several other factors that need to be considered:
- Fetal Exposure to Nicotine: Nicotine is known to affect fetal brain development in the womb. Therefore, smoking during pregnancy could lead to changes in brain development that increase the risk of autism.
- Genetic Factors: Genetics play a role in autism, so genes that increase the risk of autism may be inherited from a parent who smokes.
- Environmental Factors: Women who smoke during pregnancy usually also expose themselves to other environmental toxins, such as secondhand smoke, which can also increase the risk of autism.
At present, there is insufficient evidence to determine definitively whether smoking while pregnant increases the risk of autism. However, the evidence that is available suggests that smoking during pregnancy may be linked to an increased risk of autism. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to avoid smoking to reduce the risk of both short- and long-term health risks for their baby.
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