Strong Correlation observed between Smoking habits of Grandparents to Children with Autism

Sometime back, we at AutisMag published how smoking during pregnancy increases the risk associated with ADHD. A recent study reveals that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk for autism symptoms in their daughters’ children.

grandparents smoking during pregnancy increases risk of autism
grandparents smoking during pregnancy increases risk of Autism in their grandchildren

Researchers observed that granddaughters have a high-risk factor for autism traits in cases where grandmothers were smokers.

It should be noted that although the new research does not target cigarette smoking as a risk factor, it does show the possibility of genetic factors influencing the risk for offspring to be autistic. However, the possibility that smoking does not affect the young daughters and their children in connection to autism cannot be ruled out.

Researchers argue that the findings bring forward the risks associated with becoming autistic and that they also highlight the growing concerns that spread across generations.

Marcus Pembrey, visiting professor of paediatric genetics at the University of Bristol in England who co-led the analysis, says “We would call this a hypothesis-generating study.”

The professor further adds that it is rare for a study to be conducted on the environmental factors that affect a woman and her children’s development.

Amy Kalkbrenner, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who was not involved in the work, says

This is one of the first studies that I know of that has been able to do a three-generation study.

Amy further adds that it is surprising that people have taken note of the findings, as there is no satisfactory link between autism risk and smoking.

Heather Volk, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, says “The literature on maternal smoking and autism largely shows that there isn’t an association.”

Time Machine

Researchers analyzed the existing data from Avon’s longitudinal study and studied 14,500 children from South Western England. The researchers interviewed the parents to get their smoking histories.

Brian Lee, professor of epidemiology, says “Short of jumping into a time machine and observing the grandmothers smoking in pregnancy, this really is the best way to assess their exposure.”

Brian Lee, although not involved in the research, is associated with the researchers and is assisting with the analysis of Avon data.

Researchers are evaluating youngsters as they age and further subject them to evaluations at regular intervals. Young mothers were interviewed on a regular basis to understand childrens’ behavioral traits as they grew up.

Grandmothers who did not smoke during pregnancy were in for good news as their children were at a far lesser risk of being diagnosed with autism.

Nevertheless, it was also observed that the risk increased multiple times in girls in comparison to boys.

Mixed Mechanisms:

212 children were identified from the Avon group to be autistic. Children’s school and medical records were taken into consideration to understand more about them. Grandparents were asked to get involved to get a deeper understanding of the various factors affecting the upbringing of the children.

Interestingly, it was found that maternal grandmothers who smoked during their pregnancy stages were more likely to have autistic grandchildren in comparison to their peers who did not smoke. However, researchers further note that too few youngsters were involved in the study to conclude with solid evidence.

Until now, researchers have had more interest in autism and genetic factors and have concentrated their findings on fathers. However, the recent research highlights the need to focus attention on grandmothers and mothers alike.

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Smoking habits of Grandparents during pregnancy may cause Autism
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Smoking habits of Grandparents during pregnancy may cause Autism
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A recent study reveals that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk for autism symptoms in their daughters’ children.
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AutisMag
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