Girls are more likely to be autistic if their grandmother smoked while they were pregnant, new research suggests.

The risk of them being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is 53 per cent higher, researchers found, reports Daily Mail.

They were also 67 per cent more likely to display traits associated with the condition, like poor social skills and repetitive behaviours.

Exposure to cigarettes in the womb affects a woman’s eggs, causing changes that may affect the development of her children.

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But scientists say further research is needed to pinpoint the reason why their social interaction is affected, and to see if boys are at the same risk.

Past studies of maternal smoking in pregnancy and ASD have been inconclusive, but the new Bristol University evidence changes that.

They assessed more than 14,500 participants of a long-term study into the effects of smoking in pregnancy for the study published in Scientific Reports.

By using information collected over many years, they were able to rule out other potential explanations for their results.

Lead author Professor Jean Golding said: ‘We already know that protecting a baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things a woman can do to give her child a healthy start in life.

‘Now we’ve found that not smoking during pregnancy could also give their future grandchildren a better start too.’

She added that they have started studying the next generation of participants, which may show if the effect carries down another family layer.

Professor Marcus Pembrey, who was involved in the study, added: ‘In terms of mechanisms, there are two broad possibilities.

‘There is DNA damage that is transmitted to the grandchildren or there is some adaptive response to the smoking that leaves the grandchild more vulnerable to ASD.’

In February we shared how Incredible images of foetus show babies exposed to cigarettes may have delayed development. Read that story here.

Are we sick of these studies always blaming someone? Or is this necessary research?

Share your comments below.

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  • what a load of poop. my parents dont smoke not even my inlaws and my son has autism.
    stop blaming it on other people and start doing better research what can scientist help cure or help babies that has autism. by the way its not until they are toddlers or primary school years before we detect our children has it. my son has just been diagnosed this year grade 5 for autism.


  • Theories abound all the time – next they’ll be telling us that it’s the passive smoke inhaled by grandparents when the grand dad smoked. Till they 100% sure, they shouldn’t put these theories out there.


  • I know they are only guessing and they do state that they have only researched girls but why blame the grandmother?


  • Smoking really should be outlawed, it causes so much damage and after all nicotine is still a drug- it’s just one that for some unknown reason is legal. Even if you are a smoker and don’t care about your own health, is it really so hard to not force your decisions upon your unborn child? It’s not rocket science- it’s 9 months of your life it’s not that hard to just not do it for that time especially when you are talking about the health of your child. My husband’s mother is an avid smoker and she quit cold turkey for each of her pregnancies, even if she does still enjoy cigarettes now. I think that smoking in pregnancy is incredibly selfish. If I can give up things such as soft cheeses, deli foods, buffets, alcohol, etc. I don’t see why someone else can’t quit smoking, and for goodness sake stop breathing your smoke all over your children after they are born!


  • I know a child with Autism. None of the family have ever been smokers – parents, grandparents, and other relatives too. Look for another theory.
    Yes, there is a theory that it may be genetic but smoking may not ever be involved. If smoking was to blame wouldn’t all the children have autism – or other medical problems, not just one with Autism and otherwise perfectly healthy.

    • The article is merely saying that smoking increases the risk- it doesn’t mean that it guarantees it as with anything else there are a number of factors involved with why children are born with conditions such as autism. Another thing to note is that the study has only shown results in females, not males.


  • Who knows what to believe anymore, all the possible crap they come up with.


  • Um, but what about boys? Why would this affect girls only and not boys? A bit of smoke and mirrors here!


  • its interesting how more children are diagnosed now with autism than many years ago when people smoked and didn’t know the harm it could do – are they the reason why so many kids have autism?

    I hope one day scientists find the real cause of autism so people can stopping pinning everything to it’s cause because clearly not everything can cause it otherwise we would all have it!


  • The article clearly reads and states the words broad possibility. There are so many articles and so much information out there that is must be very difficult for parents to navigate through all of the information. All articles and information need to be treated with caution.


  • It would be great if they could find the real reasons on what caused Autism. There are always so many theories out there from vaccinations to smoking. We all do know that smoking is harmful in pregnancy. Thankfully I have never been a smoker but my hubby was.


  • Don’t know about these result figures, obviously some more research is necessary :)


  • Propaganda information to detract from what really causes Autism.


  • I think research into Autism is important, but I am not so sure about these research results myself.
    My mother in law smoked heavily through both her pregnancies. My husband and our daughters have no autism, nor does his sister (my sister in law) or her daughter.
    However my sister in laws son and step son both have high functioning autism. So go figure.


  • It is getting that way everything is effecting what we do. Now the grand mother is getting blamed things going wrong with children.


  • Yet another thing they will try to blame Autism on. Only problem is they will be using data from decades ago when many more people smoked because the risks were not widely known or discussed. Thankfully these days people are more inclined not to smoke & actively avoid passive smoking so we are much now healthier for it.


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