Pregnancy: Smoking Makes You Criminal?

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If mothers smoke during pregnancy, their offspring could become criminal later. Social status or poverty were not taken into account in the new study.

Mothers who smoke during pregnancy could have a negative impact on the health of the child and. This fact is undisputed among scientists and medical professionals. However, a study by Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, now wants to prove that smoking also increases the criminal potential of children later. This almost absurd theory is less likely to have to do with cigarette consumption as such, but rather with the social circumstances in which the mothers find themselves. However, further studies were able to prove that the neurotoxin nicotine contained in cigarettes in particular can cause brain damage to the unborn child.

Researchers at Harvard University evaluated the criminal record of around 4,000 people between the ages of 33 and 40, and at the same time checked their mothers' cigarette consumption during pregnancy. The researchers found that the child's criminal potential increased if the mothers smoked at least a pack of cigarettes during the course of their pregnancy. According to the researchers, the risk increases by 30 percent. However, the authors of the study stated that there is no clear-cut causal link between smoking mothers and criminal children. It was independent of this study whether the offspring was male or female.

Connection with low causality The researchers themselves state that although the result of the study is an indication of this supposed context, it is not possible to provide unequivocal evidence of later crime among children due to the consumption of cigarettes from mothers. In contrast to what is published in most media, there is only a very slight causal connection. The researchers only derived from the evaluated data that the risk of a later criminal career increases by 30 percent if women smoked during pregnancy. Other essential factors such as acute poverty, mental and family problems or social status were not considered in the study. For example, other study results indicate that people with a wealthy status live healthier and therefore smoke less.

Social status of the mothers The researchers at Harvard University emphasized that previous long-term studies showed that the connection between smoking mothers and the criminal energies of the offspring could also be proven. Here, other factors such as mental illness, emotional stress and family hardship or poverty were excluded in advance. However, the relationship between passive smoking in children and later psychologically conspicuous behavior was examined. The researchers therefore conclude that this connection also exists in the current study. However, the researchers do not specify whether other factors such as unhealthy diet or alcohol consumption were added. Because later behavioral problems of the children have already been proven by corresponding previous damage during pregnancy.

Smoking is harmful to the child and mother It is undisputed that smoking and alcohol consumption can have serious health consequences for the unborn child. The development of the child can be damaged sustainably and for life. Based on numerous scientific studies, it has already been found in this connection that alcohol and nicotine can lead to behavioral disorders such as ADHD or antisocial behavioral structures such as increased aggressiveness. The pediatrician Prof. Hans-Jürgen Spohr recently warned that even a small amount of alcohol consumption during the course of pregnancy can later lead to minor concentration problems and severe damage to mental and motor development, growth disorders and facial malformations. According to Professor Spohr, it is striking that 70 percent of alcohol users cannot live without supervision even as adults. Nine out of ten of the mothers who drank alcohol also had no job. At least here it becomes clear that social circumstances and psychological impairments also have to play a role in the consumption of cigarettes.

Nicotine damages nerve pathways Nicotine, a poisonous component of cigarettes, can increase the tendency to crime. The researchers also refer to this in order to bring about causality. It is true that nicotine in particular can damage neurotransmitter receptors. This could lead to behavioral problems, since criminals who tend to repeat acts often suffer from neurological impairments. Nevertheless, and there is nothing to gloss over, social status plays a major role. The study results can be found in the journal "Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health". (sb, Nov 17, 2011)

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