Prenatal smoking and patterns of youth problem behavior

This study is funded by the United States National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) and is designed to elucidate mechanisms by which antenatal exposure to cigarette smoke may contribute to the development of problem behaviour. A central aim is characterizing the phenotype of exposure-related problem behaviours, with an emphasis on sex differences. Best estimate methods of combining biological and self-reported smoking were developed for the study to enable precise characterization of exposure. Exposure is being examined as a predictor of patterns of problem behaviour including reactive and callous antisocial behaviour, substance abuse, and sexually risky behaviour as well as inattention/impulsivity. The role of family context in these pathways is also being studied. A neuroscience supplement to the study recently funded by NIDA also enables (a) the examination of the interaction of exposure and genetic susceptibility in predicting youth problem behaviour and (b) deficits in social information processing as a putative endophenotype.

Most recently, the Children's Brain Research Foundation has provided funding for a supplementary study involving a three-wave toddler follow-up of a genetically-characterized Midwestern sample of infants antenatally exposed to cigarettes. The aim of the supplementary study is to replicate our recently reported findings of atypical behavioural trajectories of exposed toddlers in the first years of life and to examine the role of genetic susceptibility in these patterns.

This project is a multi-centre collaboration, including:

University of Illinois at Chicago Project Team: Lauren Wakschlag, Ph.D., PI, Co-investigators: Bennett Leventhal, M.D., Edwin Cook, M.D., Robin Mermelstein, Ph.D & Gretchen Biesecker, Ph.D., Project Director, Collaborators: Kate Pickett, Ph.D. (University of York), Kim Espy, Ph.D., (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) Daniel Pine, M.D.& James Blair, Ph.D. (Section of Affective & Developmental Neuroscience, Intramural Research Program, NIMH)

Public Health and Society Research in the Department of Health Sciences