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Smoking in Pregnancy Tied to Schizophrenia Risk for Child

Findings based on analysis of maternal levels of cotinine

TUESDAY, May 31, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of the child developing schizophrenia, according to a study published online May 24 in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Solja Niemela, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at the University of Oulu in Rovaniemi, Finland, and colleagues analyzed data from blood samples that had been obtained from the pregnant mothers during routine HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis screenings that all pregnant women in Finland undergo. The researchers looked at maternal levels of cotinine.

Even after accounting for the pregnant mother’s age, the child’s birth weight, and/or any maternal history of psychiatric disorders, the investigators concluded that heavy nicotine intake during pregnancy appeared to be associated with a 38 percent rise in the risk for schizophrenia among offspring.

“Given the high frequency of smoking during pregnancy,” Niemela told HealthDay, “these results, if replicated, may ultimately have important public health implications for decreasing the incidence of schizophrenia.”

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