A Quasi-Experimental Study of Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Offspring Academic Achievement


  • Funding for the study was provided by grants from the Indiana University Faculty Research Support Program, NARSAD, and the Swedish Research Council. Preliminary analyses were presented at the Behavior Genetics Association Conference (June 2007, Amsterdam).

concerning this article should be addressed to Brian D’Onofrio, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405. Electronic mail may be sent to bmdonofr@indiana.edu.


The current study, based on all births in Sweden from 1983 to 1991 (= 654,707), explored the processes underlying the association between smoking during pregnancy (SDP) and offspring school grades and mathematic proficiency at age 15. The analyses compared relatives who varied in their exposure to SDP and who varied in their genetic relatedness. Although SDP was statistically associated with academic achievement (AA) when comparing unrelated individuals, the results suggest that SDP does not cause poorer academic performance, as full siblings differentially exposed to SDP did not differ in their academic scores. The pattern of results suggests that genetic factors shared by parents and their offspring help explain why offspring exposed to SDP have lower levels of AA.