News Science

Maternal smoking could affect brain cells long after birth: Study

Maternal smoking could affect brain cells long after birth: Study

Washington: A new study has found that the effects of maternal smoking could be long lasting as the early exposure to nicotine can trigger widespread genetic changes that affect the formation of connections between brain cells long after birth.

In the study, researchers from the Yale University have explained as to why maternal smoking has been linked to behavioral changes such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, addiction and conduct disorder.

According to a recent study, nicotine does this by affecting a master regulator of DNA packaging, which in turn influences activity of genes crucial to the formation and stabilization of synapses between brain cells.

Marina Picciotto, study’s senior author and Charles B.G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry, professor in the Child Study Center and the Departments of Neuroscience and Pharmacolog said, when this regulator is induced in mice, they pay attention to a stimulus they should ignore.

The research found that an inability to focus is the hallmark of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral disorders, which have been linked to maternal smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke. However, scientists did not understand how early environmental exposure to smoking could create behavioral problems years later.

Picciotto further said it was exciting to find a signal that could explain the long-lasting effects of nicotine on brain cell structure and behavior.

“It was even more intriguing to find a regulator of gene expression that responds to a stimulus like nicotine and may change synapse and brain activity during development,” he added.

The study is published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. (ANI)