Moms all over, listen up. I have a another reason you should quit smoking.
Mothers who smoke are more likely to have kids who abuse drugs.
One of five pregnant women still smoke. Is that stupid or what? Maybe I shouldn’t use the word stupid, but that certainly got your attention didn’t it?
Everybody knows that smoking is bad for a growing baby. Every time a mom takes a drag on a cigarette, the baby does, too. And, by the way, the same goes for pot.
Babies born to mothers who smoke are smaller, more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And they’re more likely to smoke when they become adults.
But a recently published research in the Journal of the American Medical Association also showed that children born to moms who smoke are three to five times more likely to become druggies when they’re teens and adults. Think about that next time you light up!
Why drug abuse is more prevalent in cases of smoking moms is not well understood, but this study gives us a clue.
Researchers took a group of adolescents whose moms had smoked when they were pregnant and compared them to a group whose moms were nonsmokers. They put them in functional MRI scanners, a test to show where blood flows in the brain. Then they gave them a game to play that they could win or lose.
When researchers zoomed in on the area of the brain where dopamine is important – dopamine is the major player in our innate reward system, a brain chemical that makes us feel good – they found that the kids whose moms had smoked were “sluggish” responders to the reward game. They needed more “action” for the brain to respond.
It may be that weak brain response that makes these kids more likely to engage in risky drug-related behavior.
This preliminary research is tiny peek into how our brain works. It points out that smoking moms might alter brain function in their children – and might just produce a lifetime of problems.
With this in mind, perhaps every pregnant woman will quit smoking. Is that too much to ask?
My spin: If you know a smoking mom, tell her to kick butt. You might not get a smiley face back, but you might make a dent in detrimental behavior. A healthy child is all of our responsibility.
Dear Doc: I’ve had a stabbing, punched-in-the-side, twisted-cut feeling for the past six months. It happens day or night, waking or sleeping. I can’t eat hamburgers or peanut butter (which I love), and Mexican food is just out. Could this be my gallbladder or something more serious like cancer?
Dear Gaseous Friend: The short answer is yes. Pain in the pit of your stomach or the upper right side of your belly, spreading to your back or shoulder, which gets worse after you eat a fatty food is often gallstones. But gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and stomach ulcers also can cause this.
I would recommended getting a scan – an ultrasound or CT scan. CT scans are not quite as good as an ultrasound in this case. You see a lot more, but they can miss some stones. CT scans are X-rays, so they have a cancer risk, while ultrasounds use sound waves and do not have such a risk.
Every time you have a choice not to get an X-ray, take it. That’s the correct answer on the Zorba Paster safety test.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician, university professor, author and broadcast journalist. He also hosts a popular radio call-in program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7.