Researchers, who analyzed data from an observational study of more than 5,200 primary school students in France, found that young children exposed to secondhand smoke, even as early as when in the womb, were at higher risk of displaying behavioral problems. The behavioral issues among kids, particularly emotional and conduct disorders were even more strongly associated with children exposed to secondhand smoke both during pregnancy and after birth.
The researchers say their data indicates that passive smoking, in addition to its known deleterious effects on the health of people, also has the potential to cause behavioral disorders among children. The French research on children collaborate earlier tests done on animals, which showed that nicotine in secondhand smoke may have a neurotoxic effect on the brain.
Those studies found that during pregnancy, exposure to nicotine smoke causes structural changes in the fetal brain, and that exposure to tobacco smoke during the first months of life causes a protein imbalance that affects the growth of neurons in animals.