Frankly, I had an immediate and very negative reaction to this headline: Heavy smoking in pregnancy linked to crime in offspring. Yes, part of it was because I'm a smoker.
But it also screamed of militant non-smoking clap-trap designed to terrify potential parents. Nonsense propagated by the anti-smoking lobby! (See? told you I had a strong reaction!)
Then I had to go and read the rest of the article. Ruined a perfectly good 'mad.'
A little background: The study involved 4,000 adults, born to mothers who were enrolled between 1959 and 1966. Researchers collected data on the mothers' smoking habits during pregnancy. In 1999, when they were 33 through 40, a review was done of the offsprings' health and criminal records.
It was determined that when the mothers smoked at least a pack (20+ cigarettes) per day during pregnancy, their kids were 30% more likely to have a criminal record. Additionally, those same children were deemed more likely to repeat offend. Did I mention anti-smoking clap-trap?!
Well, maybe and maybe not. Even the researchers admit that they are unable to definitively prove causality - that smoking mothers give birth to future criminals more frequently than non-smoking mothers. At most, they suggest that heavy maternal smoking may present a risk factor. That I can accept.
On the other hand, which is what damaged my 'mad,' maternal smoking has been linked to smaller birth weights and other health issues in kids. Studies on animals suggest that nicotine has a negative effect on the developing brain, especially neurotransmitters. In turn, neurotransmitter malfunction is considered a factor in some disorders, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, and OCD.
So, if we want to extrapolate:
- Maternal smoking exposes the fetus' developing brain to nicotine.
- Nicotine exposure has been shown to negatively impact developing neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Neurotransmitter problems may contribute to development of certain mental health conditions.
- Persons with some mental health disorders are more likely to engage in criminal behaviors.
- Therefore, ergo, and towit - maternal smoking contributes to criminal behaviors in their offspring.
It's a reasonable conclusion, given presumed truths. And, honestly, just one more reason to not smoke.