In yet one more study that can be tossed down the abyss of “smoking while pregnant” warnings, researchers determined that reading scores take quite the hit with that nicotine hit. The best part is, though, that you have to smoke upwards of a pack a day to screw your kid up that much.
Reuters reports that a team pulled data from over 5,000 kids in a different study beginning in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom. Researchers plucked data from children with an IQ of 76 and higher. They ultimately determined that kids whose mothers smoked over a whopping pack a day “struggled” on exams that gauged reading comprehension and reading aloud. Researchers note that they received questionnaires from mothers both before and after giving birth so as to keep the self-reported data “trustworthy.” And here’s what they uncovered:
On average, children exposed to high levels of nicotine in utero — defined as the minimum amount in one pack of cigarettes per day — scored 21 percent lower in these areas than classmates born to non-smoking mothers. The difference remained even when researchers took other factors — such as if parents read books to their children, worked in lower-paying jobs or were married — into account. Put another way, among students who share similar backgrounds and education, a child of a smoking mother will on average be ranked seven places lower in a class of 31 in reading accuracy and comprehension ability, said co-author Jan Frijters of Brock University in Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Jeffrey Gruen of Yale University, and the lead author of the report, describes the disparity in test scores to be “a big difference in accuracy and comprehension,” particularly at a formative time in the child’s development and self-confidence building. That alone should scare the nicotine craving out of you. But seriously, a pack a day? That’s just pushing the whole Betty Draper persona way too hard.