Science Daily reports that maternal smoking may cause nicotine dependence in children later on in life.

Researchers from the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital analyzed data on 1,086 would-be mothers. Smoking habits were taken into account, and levels of testosterone and cortisol (known as the stress hormone) were measured during pregnancy.

When the children grew older, researchers interviewed them about their own smoking habits, and found that the daughters had higher prenatal levels of cortisol and were more predisposed to nicotine dependence as compared with the sons.

“Our findings highlight the particular vulnerability of daughters to long-term adverse outcomes following maternal stress and smoking during pregnancy. We don't yet know why this is, but possible mechanisms include sex differences in stress hormone regulation in the placenta and adaptation to prenatal environmental exposures,” first author Dr. Laura Stroud explains.

Smoking during pregnancy has also been known to cause several offspring issues, such as behavioral problems, attention deficit disorder, and sudden death syndrome. To find out just how serious the damage could be, consult your doctor.

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(Photo by Yana Lyandres via Flickr Creative Commons)

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