A new study suggests that babies born from smokers have increased risks for high-functioning autism.
Although smoking has not been clearly associated with numerous forms of autism in children, subtypes of the condition may exhibit the same symptoms but other forms could be affected differently as far as environment and genetic factors are concerned.
Study author and assistant professor from the University Of Wisconsin- Milwaukee Zilber School Of Public Health Amy Kalkbrenner explained how autism and tobacco could be linked. “We know ‘autism spectrum disorders’ is an umbrella term. What we’re showing is the response to an environmental toxin may differ by the subtype of autism a child has.”
In the United States, one in every 88 children are affected with the disorder which is defined as a neuro-developmental abnormality particularly manifested by problems in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and constrained interests and behavior in kids.
The researchers gathered 634,000 birth records of US children born in 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1998. It was noted that approximately 13% of the mothers smoked while pregnant, and about 11% of them gave birth to babies affected with autism spectrum disorder.
Researchers further claimed that a child’s risk for high-functioning autism is raised by 25%, such as that of Asperger’s syndrome, upon further analysis of data.
Director for environmental research for Autism Speaks Alycia Halladay added that while the study yielded similar results from earlier researches done, this particular paper took into account a large sample of kids and was able to open the idea that various types of autism can be influenced by different contributing factors.
Tobacco can specifically promote risks of autism by disrupting the flow of oxygen to the baby while inside the mother’s womb. The nicotine is absorbed in the placenta and reaches all the way to the fetus’ nervous system. “There are many potential biological pathways for which tobacco can harm the developing baby,” Kalkbrenner said.