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Competitiveness / Education and Research



Smoking pregnant mothers don't produce children with criminal minds - new Swedish research show

Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Unlike past research, which had suggested that, women who smoke during pregnancy often have children who fall into criminality, a new Swedish study from Karolinska Institutet, (KI), has found the contrary.

The study suggest that it is not the smoking itself that make the children to become criminals, but that there are genetic factors that are responsible. Others also point to social problems such as deprivation that could be copied by children who have known nothing better outside their crime infested area where they have grown up.

Speaking to radio Sweden, Professor Paul Lichtenstein of KI said "In this particular study we have found that smoking during pregnancy causes not so much long term effects in children, it does not cause addiction, it does not cause crime. Without the links that exist due to genetic predisposition that is inherited for generations, there is not connection with smoking".
Previous studies, including those from Harvard University, have shown that women who smoke at least one pack of cigarettes a day during pregnancy pose greater risk to their children ending up involved in crime than if the mother is smoke-free.

Now scientists at Karolinska Institutet, KI, have studied this theory and found that it is not the smoking itself that causes the criminality, but genetic associations in their family that have an impact on whether children become criminals. The study was carried out on some 206 000 Swedes.

"The most likely interpretation is that it is because being prone to smoke is partly hereditary, and the genes that affect susceptibility also influence drug abuse and crime in their children. So it's really just genetic factors," says Paul Lichtenstein to radio Sweden.

It is known that smoking during pregnancy can cause low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. But Jerzy Sarnecki, professor in criminology, who has researched much about why some people become criminals, says that one must also take into account social factors.

"Of course there are genetic background factors, but there are also a lot of social forces and so we should focuse on social science research,  - we know that people with social problems are quite often children who inherit some of the social problems," says Jerzy Sarnecki.
by Team

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