Teenagers, Rats, Pregnancy and Nicotine

A new study published in nature.com as referenced in the Journal of Neuroscience (jneurosci.org) has recently come out indicating a link between smoking mothers and as the paper puts it “the propensity” of offspring to develop behavior related to over-consumption later on in life.

According to Sarah F. Leibowitz, in the paper “Prenatal Exposure to Nicotine Stimulates Neurogenesis of Orexigenic Peptide-Expressing Neurons in Hypothalamus and Amygdala published in the Rockefeller University in New York, “…gestational exposure to nicotine increases the propensity of offspring to consume nicotine.

Of course, we’re not rats.

As humans, we tend to view ourselves differently from creatures that are lower in the food chain. But the biological and neurological link could not be discounted. In the article published by Moheb Costandi which referenced the Leibowitz paper, he highlighted that even nicotine patches and e-cigarettes have an effect on brain development which could alter adolescent behavior.

From a layman’s standpoint, nicotine definitely makes its imprint on us and our offspring whether biologically, neurologically, genetically or psychologically.

From this study, I can only be amazed by how many things are passed on during pregnancy. The lesson here is that we can influence our children by changing ourselves first. From a dad’s personal point of view I am somewhat amazed that this process begins during the pregnancy stage.

I have five kids and I’m very thankful that my wife did not smoke when she was pregnant. She still does not smoke and it was just something she did not like.

If you’re a teenager…

As much as the scientific evidence is piling up that your behavior now is partially determined by your parents and their past, I would still like to proffer the notion that you have the free will to change all that. You have the power to choose otherwise and it may be hard. I should know, I was a smoker and my dad was a smoker too. But that’s the sublime beauty of our very humanity. We can go beyond this. You can go beyond this.  You have the capability to willfully change your destiny and choose the path of breathing happily.

 

Creative Commons image via Flickr

 

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