A sibling-comparison study of smoking during pregnancy and risk for reading-related problems

Lauren Micalizzi, Kristine Marceau, Allison S. Evans, Leslie A. Brick, Rohan H.C. Palmer, Andrew C. Heath, Valerie S. Knopik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This research examines the relationship between smoking during pregnancy (SDP) and risk for reading related problems in siblings discordant for exposure to SDP. Data (N = 173 families) were drawn from the Missouri Mothers and Their Children study, a sample, identified using birth records (years 1998–2005), in which mothers changed her smoking behavior between two pregnancies (Child 1 [older sibling]: M = 12.99; Child 2 [younger sibling]: M = 10.19). A sibling comparison approach was used, providing a robust test for the association between SDP and reading related outcomes in school-aged children. Results suggested within-family (i.e., potentially causal) associations between SDP and reading and language/comprehension factor scores, as well as between SDP and specific reading-related skills, including reading accuracy and receptive language, with increased exposure to SDP associated with decreased performance. SDP was not associated with spelling, reading rate, or receptive vocabulary. Initial within-family associations between SDP and word-letter identification, phonetic/decoding skills, and reading comprehension were fully attenuated following partial control for genetic and environmental confounding of the associations. These findings indicate that exposure to SDP is associated with poorer performance on some, but not all skills assessed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106961
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Family studies
  • Language
  • Reading
  • Smoking during pregnancy


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