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The impact of smoking in adolescence on early adult anxiety symptoms and the relationship between infant vulnerability factors for anxiety and early adult anxiety symptoms : The TOPP Study

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posted on 2013-05-01, 00:00 authored by Steve MoylanSteve Moylan, K Gustavson, E Karevold, S Overland, Felice JackaFelice Jacka, Julie PascoJulie Pasco, Michael BerkMichael Berk
Cigarette smoking is increased in people with trait anxiety and anxiety disorders, however no longitudinal data exist illuminating whether smoking in adolescence can influence the developmental trajectory of anxiety symptoms from early vulnerability in infancy to adult anxiety expression. Using The Tracing Opportunities and Problems in Childhood and Adolescence (TOPP) Study, a community-based cohort of children and adolescents from Norway who were observed from the age of 18months to age 18–19years, we explored the relationship between adolescent smoking, early vulnerability for anxiety in infancy (e.g. shyness, internalizing behaviors, emotional temperaments) and reported early adult anxiety.

Structural equation modeling demonstrated that adolescent active smoking was positively associated with increased early adulthood anxiety (β = 0.17, p<0.05), after controlling for maternal education (proxy for socioeconomic status). Adolescent anxiety did not predict early adult smoking. Adolescent active smoking was a significant effect modifier in the relationship between some infant vulnerability factors and later anxiety; smoking during adolescence moderated the relationship between infant internalizing behaviors (total sample: active smokers: β = 0.85,p<0.01, non-active smokers: ns) and highly emotional temperament (total sample: active smokers: β = 0.55,p<0.01,non-active smokers: ns), but not shyness, and anxiety in early adulthood. The results support a model where smoking acts as an exogenous risk factor in the development of anxiety, and smoking may alter the developmental trajectory of anxiety from infant vulnerability to early adult anxiety symptom expression. Although alternative non-mutually exclusive models may explain these findings, the results suggest that adolescent smoking may be a risk factor for adult anxiety, potentially by influencing anxiety developmental trajectories. Given the known adverse health effects of cigarette smoking and significant health burden imposed by anxiety disorders, this study supports the importance of smoking prevention and cessation programs targeting children and adolescence.



PLoS one






Public Library of Science


San Francisco, Calif.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2013, The Authors