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Does Second Hand Smoke Cause ADHD?

written by: M. Staker • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/16/2010

Is there a link between second hand smoke and ADHD? According to research, this may be the case. Read this article to find out if second hand smoke causes ADHD.

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    Second Hand Smoke and ADHD

    Although there is no known, specific cause of ADHD, most research suggests that it is caused by inherited traits. However, there is growing evidence that supports the fact that exposure to certain environmental toxins can cause ADHD. According to research, children who are exposed to second hand smoke have more difficulty with memory, reasoning, and other cognitive abilities, all of which are symptoms of ADHD. In Hong Kong, a study was conducted that involved students between the ages of eleven and twenty years old. The study revealed that one third of the students who lived with at least one smoker, described their school performance as poor. This leads many experts to believe that second hand smoke causes ADHD or ADHD symptoms.

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    Maternal Smoking and ADHD

    Not only is smoking during pregnancy linked to low birth weight and birth defects, there is increasing evidence that it may also be a risk factor for ADHD. In fact, according to a study authored by Dr. Tanya Froehlich, women who smoke during their pregnancy may be twice as likely to give birth to a child with ADHD or other behavioral disorders. The study also showed that pregnant women who are exposed to second hand smoke are also more likely to have a child with ADHD. Many experts think that this is due to the fact that the nicotine may hinder the development of the brain, in turn, leading to behavioral issues.

    Studies conducted on animals have shown that nicotine exposure during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy affect the development of the brain of the fetus. Although nicotine exposure in the womb is one of many factors that may contribute to ADHD, researchers involved with this study suggest that up to 38% of children with ADHD, who are between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age, may have the disorder as a result of prenatal exposure.

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    Avoiding Cigarette Smoke

    Since nicotine has been shown to affect the brain development of a fetus, women who are pregnant should not smoke and should also avoid being around cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke, as well as other harmful toxins. Parents who smoke should also avoid smoking around their children since second hand smoke is linked to cognitive impairments, causing them to have academic problems. It has been proven that even opening windows or using a fan while smoking does not prevent others from inhaling the second hand smoke.

    Studies show that even limited exposure to second hand smoke can cause harmful effects. Even though there is no solid proof that second hand smoke causes ADHD, some believe there is too much evidence to ignore the possibility that it might be a risk factor. Since ADHD can cause so many different behavioral, emotional, and social problems, parents might want to consider eliminating the possibility of exposing their children and unborn babies to second hand smoke.

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