Early tobacco smoke exposure, preschool cool/hot inhibitory control, and young adolescents' externalizing/internalizing problems.

Research paper by Hongjian H Cao, Yue Y Liang, Nan N Zhou

Indexed on: 05 Jun '20Published on: 05 Jun '20Published in: Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)


There is a dearth of research spanning multiple developmental stages to delineate the far-reaching implications of early tobacco smoke exposure for later behavior adaptation and also elucidate the underlying psychological mechanisms. Using NICHD SECCYD data, we conducted process model analyses to address this gap. Results indicated that early tobacco smoke exposure was not only negatively associated with preschool cool and hot inhibitory control, but also positively related to externalizing and internalizing problems in early adolescence. Further, early exposure was also positively associated with externalizing problems in early adolescence via a negative link with preschool cool inhibitory control. Behavior problems in toddlerhood also served as one mechanism underlying the implications of early exposure for behavior problems in early adolescence. As compared to nonexposed children, children with both prenatal and postnatal exposure tended to have lower cool and hot inhibitory control, whereas children with only prenatal exposure displayed lower hot inhibitory control. Regardless of whether exposure was across prenatal and postnatal periods, or restricted to prenatal phase alone, exposed children displayed more behavior problems in toddlerhood, which in turn predicted more behavior problems in early adolescence. All associations emerged after considering extensive potential confounding factors and did not vary across child sex. Taken together, early tobacco smoke exposure may induce self-regulation deficits and also early onset of behavior problems and thus elevate the risk of later psychopathology. Building a smoke free environment in pregnancy and infancy likely yields long-term benefits by facilitating adaptation in early adolescence. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).