Mums who smoke while pregnant to blame for criminal behaviour in children?

Are smoking mothers to blame for criminal behavior of their children?

A study conducted by the Australian institute of families surveyed 5000 families in order to determine what factors may lead to an increased likelihood of a child engaging in criminal behaviour later in life.

The study considered the families demographic characteristics, family and household features and parenting styles all of which seemingly play a role in the likelihood of children committing a crime later in their lives.

Most shockingly however is the fact that the study suggests that mothers who smoke during their pregnancy were more likely to have children who were involved in criminal activity later in life.

The study found that smoking during pregnancy was a significant risk factor for later criminal behaviour even when considering other characteristics. The study was able to conclude that of the 5000 families surveyed, families where mothers had smoked during the pregnancy were 18-18.9% more likely to have children who would become involved in criminal activity later in life.

Dr Edwards, who conducted the study, found that the link between parents who smoke and the negative effects on children could also extend to behavioral issues including greater risk of developing ADHD or attention hyper activity. Dr Edwards suggests that the link between smoking and children committing criminal offences is not conclusive but the results would suggest that mothers who smoke during pregnancy are putting their children at a disadvantage.

Should Smoking whilst Pregnant be illegal?

This begs the question about whether or not smoking should be illegal for mothers during pregnancy. With recent laws that have just been passed in NSW no longer allowing smoking to take place anywhere where food is served, in order to stop people suffering the effects of second hand smoke, there is a valid argument that the harmful effects of smoking on unborn children are becoming more known, giving credibility to the argument that smoking whilst pregnant should be illegal.

Is smoking whilst pregnant akin to taking drugs whilst pregnant, having regard to the obvious health concerns of the unborn child? It is well known that women who take drugs whilst pregnant are often the subject of intervention by Department of Community Services (sometimes often leading to the removal of the child upon birth).

To some extent, should the same not apply to pregnant women who smoke?