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Jul 11

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Could Your Grandmother’s Smoking During Pregnancy Affect Family Autism Rates?

Could Your Grandmother's Smoking During Pregnancy Affect Family Autism Rates?

Could Your Grandmother’s Smoking During Pregnancy Affect  Family Autism Rates?

If your grandmother smoked during her pregnancy, she may have inadvertently increased the risk of autism in your family. A new study found a weak link between grandmothers who smoked and autism in children. However, the study results were confusing and created more questions.

Research Results

Researchers from the University of Bristol looked at the possible connection between grandmothers who smoked while they were pregnant and the generations that came after them. They were interested in learning if their grandchildren were more likely to have autism. The researchers looked at 14,000 children and their grandmothers.

They uncovered confusing results that led to more questions than answers. First, they found a weak connection between grandmothers who smoked and granddaughters who had autism. However, they did not see a link for grandsons. In addition, the link only appeared if the mothers did not smoke, but the grandmothers did smoke.

Missing Links

Although the study found that girls were more likely to have poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviors, it did not include all the factors that could have contributed to this. For example, the study did not look at genes, exercise, weight, diet and other things that can affect a child’s behavior.

The researchers could not explain why they did not see a link between grandmothers who smoked and grandsons having a higher risk of autism despite other studies showing that boys are more likely to have autism. They also could not explain why the mothers not smoking mattered and affected the results.

Recommendations

Despite the confusing results of the study, health organizations still recommend that pregnant women do not smoke. Smoking during pregnancy can affect a baby’s birth weight. It also increases the risk of miscarriage, placenta problems and birth defects. Talk to your health care provider about quitting smoking or helping someone else quit.

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