ADHD

Updated 13 June 2017

How secondhand smoke makes children act out

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke at an early age are more likely to have behavioural problems later in life, a new study suggests.

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Researchers analysed data from more than 5,200 primary school students in France and found that those exposed to secondhand smoke while in the womb and/or at a young age were at higher risk for behavioural problems, particularly emotional and conduct disorders and ADHD.

The association was strongest among children exposed to secondhand smoke both during pregnancy and after birth.

Read: What is ADHD?

However, because this was an observational study, the authors can't say for sure that secondhand smoke caused the behavioural problems.

The study was published online recently in the journal PLoS One.

Read: Treating ADHD

"Our data indicate that passive smoking, in addition to the well-known effects on health, should also be avoided because of the behavioural disorders it may cause in children," study leader Isabella Annesi-Maesano, research director at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, said in an institute news release.

The results support animal research findings that nicotine in secondhand smoke may have a neurotoxic effect on the brain.

Those studies found that during pregnancy, exposure to nicotine smoke causes structural changes in the foetal brain, and that exposure to tobacco smoke during the first months of life causes a protein imbalance that affects the growth of neurons, the study authors said.

Read more:

Foster kids more likely to have ADHD 

Can Omega-3 reduce antisocial behaviour in children? 

Side effects of ADHD medication



 

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ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation (www.gb4adhd.co.za) She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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