Maternal Cigarette Smoking and Deviant/Criminal Behavior: A Meta-Analysis

Travis C. Pratt, Washington State University
Jean M. McGloin, Rutgers University

A growing body of empirical literature has emerged that examines the relationship between maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and children's subsequent antisocial behavior. Typically couched in the language of life-course/developmental criminological perspectives, the results of these studies are inconsistent. To help clarify what existing studies do, and do not, tell us about whether criminologists should continue to treat maternal cigarette smoking as a serious criminogenic risk factor, we subjected this body of literature on the subject to a meta-analysis or quantitative synthesis. In particular, our analysis reveals: (1) the overall magnitude of the relationship between mothers' cigarette smoking and the likelihood their children will engage in deviant/criminal behavior, and (2) the degree to which this relationship is conditioned by methodological differences across empirical studies. The implications for future research on this subject are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006