If you smoke while pregnant, you biologically program your unborn child to become a smoker at adulthood, a study by researchers at the University of Arizona reveals.
"Somehow, smoking changes the brain chemistry," says the researcher. Roni Grad.
"If you are exposed to smoking before birth or in the first years of life, you are more likely to become a chronic smoker by the age of 22," he explains.
In fact, these children are four times more likely to become smokers, according to the study.
Grad's team used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study to see if mother's smoking during pregnancy or the baby's first years of life affects the child's behavior at maturity.
The women who continued to smoke during pregnancy and in the first years of the child's life had smoker children up to the age of 22 years.
In addition, children of mothers who had smoked during pregnancy were less likely to quit this defect than children of mothers who had not smoked during pregnancy or in their first years of life.
The impact of smoking on pregnancy is not affected whether a child's father smokes or not.
"No one should smoke. I strongly discourage any mother who wants to smoke near the baby," warns Grad. It is already known what harmful effects of smoking can have on the health of the fetus, so the new study provides a new reason for mothers to quit smoking.
Also read Smoking During Pregnancy.