ABSTRACT: Maternal Smoking
During Pregnancy and Adult Male Criminal Outcomes
Patricia A. Brennan, PhD; Emily R. Grekin; Sarnoff A. Mednick, PhD, DrMed
Archives of General Psychiatry
Background: Perinatal risk factors are related to persistent and violent
criminal outcomes. Prenatal maternal smoking may represent an additional
perinatal risk factor for adult criminal outcomes. Our study examines maternal
smoking during pregnancy as a predictor of offspring crime in the context
of a prospective, longitudinal design.
Methods: Subjects were a birth cohort of 4169 males born between September
1959 and December 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the third trimester
of pregnancy, mothers self-reported the number of cigarettes smoked daily.
When the male offspring were 34 years of age, their arrest histories were
checked in the Danish National Criminal Register. Additional data were collected
concerning maternal rejection, socioeconomic status, maternal age, pregnancy
and delivery complications, use of drugs during pregnancy, paternal criminal
history, and parental psychiatric hospitalization.
Results: Results indicate a dose-response relationship between amount
of maternal prenatal smoking and arrests for nonviolent and violent crimes.
Maternal prenatal smoking was particularly related to persistent criminal
behavior rather than to arrests confined to adolescence. These relationships
remained significant after potential demographic, parental, and perinatal
risk confounds were controlled for.
Conclusions: Maternal prenatal smoking predicts persistent criminal outcome
in male offspring. This relationship has not been accounted for by related
parental characteristics or perinatal problems. Potential physiologic or
central nervous system mediators between maternal smoking during pregnancy
and offspring criminal outcomes need further study.
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