Many studies have shown that mothers who smoke through their pregnancy have children with a higher risk of obesity. What was unknown were the causes behind this result. A new study may have found the answer.
Researches at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada looked at 378 children between the ages of 13 and 19 years old. The study patients were from one area of Quebec, Canada, as part of the Saguenay Youth Study program. The participants were divided into two groups- those who’s mothers smoked one or more cigarette while pregnant, and those who’s mothers did not. The participants were selected to match height, social status, school attendance, and other areas that could skew data. The resulting findings would thus be as accurate as possible with little outside correlation.
The results found that the smoking group were birthed at lower weights and were breastfed for a shorter period of time. The non-smoking group were a higher birth weight and were breastfed for longer. As the children aged, there was a marked difference in their development. The smoking group had a significantly higher fat content at the time of the study compared to the non-smoking group.
The results were adjusted for the effects of the shorter breastfeeding duration. The findings showed that the children who were exposed to smoke while in the womb had a lower volume of amygdala. This part of the brain directly effects the processing of emotions and memories. The cause of this was dietary fat intake. The higher the fat in the childrens meals, the less amygdala they had.
The results show that children exposed to smoke have a preference to fat, which effects the brain differently than the non-smoking group. This could mean that they derive more pleasure from eating fatty foods, which in turn causes them to enjoy other foods less.