As if you needed another reason why smoking during pregnancy is a bad idea, a study from researchers at Harvard and Brown universities found that women who smoked a pack a day or more during pregnancy had a 30 percent increased chance of having a child who would later be arrested as an adult. Published online November 15, 2010, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the study analyzed the criminal and health records of nearly 4,000 Americans, age 33 to 40, whose mothers had participated in a long-term health-tracking study when they were pregnant (including how much they smoked). Even when mental illness, poverty, and other such factors were considered, children of smokers were more likely than children of non-smokers to have arrest records as adults.
The risk was highest among heavy smokers, or those who smoked 20 cigarettes or more a day while pregnant. Children born to these women were 47 more likely to become repeat criminal offenders as adults.
Researchers are quick to point out that children of smokers are not "doomed" to criminal behavior. But they do believe their findings add one more legitimate reason why quitting smoking when you are pregnant (and ideally, before you conceive) is so important. According to the March of Dimes, smoking during pregnancy may increase your risk for ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, placenta previa, and stillbirth. For Baby, prenatal smoke exposure increases the risk for cleft palate and other birth defects, preterm birth, and low birth weight.