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Smoking during Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Finnish National Birth Cohort



Andre Sourander, Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Itäinen Pitkäkatu 1/Varia, 20014 Turku, Finland.




Results of previous population-based studies examining associations between smoking during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are contradictory. Furthermore, there is a lack of population-based studies examining the relationship between smoking during pregnancy and the main diagnostic subtypes of ASD.


We conducted a population-based nested case–control study based on the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism (FIPS-A) among liveborn infants delivered in Finland between 1987 and 2005. Data on maternal smoking during pregnancy were available from the Finnish Medical Birth Register (FMBR) since October 1990. Data on ASD in the offspring were obtained from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register (FHDR).


Among the three subtypes of ASD, maternal smoking during the whole pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) (odds ratio 1.2, 95% confidence interval 1.0, 1.5). The increase in odds persisted after controlling for maternal age, mother's socio-economic and psychiatric status, and infant's weight for gestational age. However, smoking exposure limited to the first trimester was not associated with PDD or any of the other ASD subtypes.


Maternal smoking is related to a modest increase in risk of PDD, while no associations were observed for childhood autism and Asperger's syndrome.