A study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), New York State Psychiatric Institute and colleagues in Finland reports an association between smoking during pregnancy and increased risk for schizophrenia in children.
Results show that a higher maternal nicotine level in the mother’s blood was associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia among their offspring.
Findings are published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The paper evaluated nearly 1,000 cases of schizophrenia and matched controls among offspring born in Finland from 1983-1998 who were ascertained from the country’s national registry.
Heavy maternal nicotine exposure was associated with a 38-percent increased odds of schizophrenia.
The findings persisted after adjusting for factors, including maternal and parental psychiatric history, socioeconomic status, and maternal age.
“To our knowledge, this is the first biomarker-based study to show a relationship between fetal nicotine exposure and schizophrenia,” said Alan Brown, MD, MPH, senior author and Mailman School professor of Epidemiology and professor of Psychiatry at CUMC.
“We employed a nationwide sample with the highest number of schizophrenia cases to date in a study of this type.”