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HHS HealthBeat (July 4, 2012)

Smoking, pregnancy, and autism

A pregnant woman smokes.
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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Nicholas Garlow with HHS HealthBeat.

Tobacco exposure during pregnancy is harmful to a baby. A new study finds that it may increase a child’s risk of having certain forms of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Researchers looked at 600,000 pregnancies from areas included in the U.S. autism surveillance program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amy Kalkbrenner is at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health.

“For those children that had high functioning autism, there did appear to be somewhat of a signal between maternal smoking and pregnancy and that risk of autism.”

Women should not smoke while pregnant and should avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.

It’s estimated that one in every 88 children has some form of ASD.

The study is in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Nicholas Garlow.

Last revised: July 3, 2012