Purpose: This study tested the hypothesis that cigarette smoking retards physical development during early adolescence among girls.
Methods: A school-recruited sample of adolescent girls (N = 496) completed surveys assessing smoking behaviors and related variables as well as direct measures of height and weight annually over 3-years. Analyses tested whether smoking trajectories and initial smoking correlated with changes in physical growth over time.
Results: Relative to persistent nonsmoking, persistent smoking was associated with reduced growth in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI). Initiation of smoking, relative to persistent nonsmoking, was associated with reduced growth in weight and BMI but not height. Smoking cessation, relative to persistent smoking, was associated with increased gains in weight and BMI but not height. Results also documented a prospective dose-response relation of initial smoking quantity and frequency to subsequent growth retardation in height, weight, and BMI.
Conclusions: Findings are generally consistent with the assertion that smoking in early adolescence retards physical development among adolescent girls.