Maternal Smoking and Tic Disorder ~ Life Is Great

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Maternal Smoking and Tic Disorder

Women who smoke during pregnancy appear to have a risk of having a
child with severe symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. The risk of having
obsessive-compulsive disorder is also increased in these children.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that develops in
childhood or adolescence in which patients have involuntary tics,
which are rapid, sudden movements that occur repeatedly in the same
way. The symptoms usually occur several times a day, every day or
intermittently and are usually mild, but can be severe.

The condition is believed be to associated with many genetic and
environmental factors. While few studies have examined the role of
environmental factors, there are suggestions that incidents before or
just after birth, as well as the mother's prenatal habits, affect the
development of the disorder, its severity, and the risk of having
another neurologic condition.

Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco, USA,
hypothesised that reductions in oxygen in the womb, a known effect of
smoking, could increase the risk of developing Tourette's syndrome in
those with a genetic susceptibility. To test this theory, they
evaluated members of three groups of people with the syndrome, which
included 53 individuals from Costa Rica, 99 individuals of Jewish
descent, and 28 who had a sibling with the syndrome. The subjects'
ages ranged from 3 to 59 years, but 60 percent were younger than 14
years when they were interviewed.

It was found that the average tic severity score was 39 out of a
possible 50. The presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder and self-
injurious behaviour was strongly associated with tic severity.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder was also associated with
tics, but the association was not as strong as were the other two
disorders. More than half of the subjects reported at least one
adverse event that occurred before or shortly after birth, but these
were generally similar to that in the general population. Parental
factors also did not seem to affect risk.

However, after accounting for the effect of patient group, gender and
family history, maternal smoking was significantly associated with
total tic severity and an increased risk of obsessive-compulsive
disorder. This association is evidence that chronic oxygen deprivation
during fetal development increases the risk. However, maternal smoking
is an indicator of another factor associated with the syndrome that
has yet to be uncovered, such as socioeconomic status or attention
deficit/hyperactivity disorder in one or both of the parents.

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