Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Prenatal Influences and Crime
Melissa Peskin & Adrian Raine
Over the past 20 years, researchers have made considerable progress in uncovering various social, psychological, and biological risk factors that predispose to criminal behavior. One area in particular that has received increasing attention has been the role of early health risk factors in contributing to antisocial behavior. A large body of research has now convincingly demonstrated that several prenatal risk factors—including malnutrition, birth complications, and prenatal nicotine and alcohol exposure—significantly increase risk for antisocial and criminal behavior across the lifespan. Research has increasingly revealed that childhood externalizing behavior, such as conduct disorder, aggression and hyperactivity, represents a major predisposition to adult crime and violence. Thus, insight into the etiology of childhood antisocial behavior is critical to attempts to understand, and possibly prevent, adult criminality. Research on prenatal influences on crime has generally focused on four main domains: minor physical abnormalities, prenatal nicotine and alcohol exposure, birth complications, and malnutrition. Minor ...