Maternal smoking during pregnancy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in offspring

Anita Thapar*, Tom Fowler, Frances Rice, Jane Scourfield, Marianne Van Den Bree, Hollie Thomas, Gordon Harold, Dale Hay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

291 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether smoking during pregnancy is associated with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring and whether these effects are additional to genetic influences. Method: Children's ADHD symptoms (parent- and teacher-rated), maternal smoking during pregnancy, conduct disorder symptoms, and family adversity were assessed with questionnaires for a population-based sample of twins (1,452 twin pairs 5-16 years of age). Results: Although genetic influences accounted for most of the variance in offspring ADHD, maternal smoking during pregnancy was still found to show a significant environmentally mediated association. Maternal smoking remained a significant influence when other potential confounds were taken into account. Conclusions: Maternal smoking during pregnancy appears to show an association with offspring ADHD symptoms that is additional to the effects of genes and not attributable to shared rater effects, clinical referral biases, or covariation with antisocial behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-1989
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


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