It’s no secret that smoking tobacco can have some adverse effects on our health. But what kind of effects does smoking have while someone is pregnant? According to Pharmaceutical Technology, new data suggests that smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing Tourette syndrome. In the past, Tourette syndrome has been linked to a genetic mutation. However, this data suggests that environmental factors, alongside genetic factors, can spur Tourette syndrome to occur.
Tourette Syndrome (TS)
To begin, it is first important to understand exactly what Tourette syndrome is. This neurodevelopmental disorder affects the nervous system, causing involuntary movements or vocalizations (“tics”). People with tics may excessively or repeatedly blink, clear their throat, shout out sounds or words, or shrug their shoulders. Again, tics are involuntary, so those with tics cannot stop them from occurring. Tourette syndrome is also widely misunderstood; while the media has perpetuated the idea of tics as screaming or shouting offensive words, this does not happen in each case and can be extremely damaging to patients to continue this line of discourse. Tics often appear in early childhood or adolescence and, in many cases, decrease through age. To learn more about the wide variety of potential tics, check out this helpful article from the Mayo Clinic.
Within this particular study, researchers sought to explore the link between maternal smoking and tic development. Researchers evaluated data from 7 studies to analyze this link. Findings, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, include:
- Maternal smoking increased the risk of developing Tourette syndrome by 35%.
- After considering other factors such as preterm birth or birth weight, researchers determined that smoking more than 10 cigarettes while pregnant increased tic disorder risk by 71%.
- Additional risk factors include cannabis or alcohol use while pregnant, birth order (whether the child was the first in the family or not), and whether the mother gained enough weight while pregnant.
- In fact, smoking cannabis or drinking alcohol in the 3rd trimester significantly increased the risk of Tourette syndrome.
Although researchers acknowledge that more research is needed to better understand this condition, it is clear that a number of environmental factors could play a role in the rising diagnoses.