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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Prenatal Smoke Exposure May Cause Addiction

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New research suggests there may be an increased risk of addiction with children who had exposure to cigarette smoke prenatally. Cigarette smoke may interfere with the brain’s reward processing system, according to Time.com.

177 teenagers who had been exposed to cigarettes prenatally and 177 teens whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy were studied by German researchers.

Functional MRI machines were used on the teens, recording brain activity during computer-based tasks. The teenagers we told to press a button to indicate on which side of the screen a figure appeared and they would receive a reward if they pressed the correct button fast enough.

Researchers saw less activity in the area of the brain thought to be depressed by nicotine in teens whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, compared with the teens whose mothers did not smoke while pregnant. Study participants who had prenatal smoke exposure took longer to respond to the figures that appeared on the screen.

In JAMA Psychiatry, researchers wrote, that the weaker response in this area of the brain, called the ventral striatum, responding to anticipation in teens exposed prenatally to cigarette smoke “may represent a risk factor for substance use and development of addiction later in life.”
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