Maternal smoking is associated with
increased risk for chronic tic disorders
& Tourette syndrome in the child.
An association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and an increased risk for Tourette syndrome and other chronic tic disorders has been uncovered by researchers. The link seems especially strong for complex presentations of Tourette syndrome in which two or more psychiatric disorders are present.
Smoking while pregnant has been associated with several behavioral manifestations in children, including neuropsychiatric difficulties such as chronic tic disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, reasons for this association have not been fully elucidated. For example, mothers who smoke during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a psychiatric disorder, so it may be that the risk for psychiatric disorders is transferred from parent to child by genetic factors or environmental factors that are not directly related to smoking. Maternal smoking is also associated with prematurity and lower birth weight, which may, in turn, be a risk factor for subsequent behavioral problems in the child. Furthermore, parental smoking is associated with lower socioeconomic status and higher rates of alcohol and substance use, and these factors are also linked to behavioral changes in children.
Identifying environmental causes for chronic tic disorders and related psychiatric conditions is important because if we know specific risk factors, we can develop more effective strategies for prevention. The next step is to understand how these environmental factors exert their effects on risk, as this will provide a window into the biological mechanisms that underlie these conditions. As we learn more about the neurobiological pathways that underlie a specific disorder, we will be better positioned to develop more specific and targeted treatments.