Quitting smoking in pregnancy benefits baby's temperament

May 1, 2008

Quitting smoking during pregnancy reduces a mother's chances of giving birth to a baby with problem behavior.

Quitting smoking during pregnancy reduces a mother's chances of giving birth to a baby with problem behavior, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Kate E. Pickett, PhD, of the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data on over 18,000 infants whose mothers were classified as pregnancy nonsmokers, quitters, and light or heavy smokers. Heavy smoking was classified as at least 10 cigarettes a day. The infants were assessed in terms of temperament, receptivity to novelty, and regularity.

The lowest scores for easy temperament were found among babies whose mothers were heavy smokers, and babies of mothers who quit during pregnancy scored the highest, the investigators found. Smoking during pregnancy was also associated with low positive mood, while quitting during pregnancy was associated with lower risk of distress to novelty and irregularity.

Pickett KE, Wood C, Adamson J, et al. Meaningful differences in maternal smoking behaviour during pregnancy: implications for infant behavioural vulnerability. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2008;62:318-324. doi:10.1136/jech.2006.058768.