Maternal smoking in pregnancy is associated with cholesterol development in the offspring: A 27-years follow-up study

Atherosclerosis. 2008 Jan;196(1):42-48. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.01.032. Epub 2007 Mar 2.


Objective: To examine the associations of maternal smoking in pregnancy with development of cholesterol levels from childhood to adulthood.

Methods: Total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were measured annually from 1975 to 1993 and in 2002 in 350 subjects aged 5-19 years at baseline who participate in a prospective cohort study. Pregnancy and birth data were obtained through questionnaires sent to the parents.

Results: Children of mothers who smoked in pregnancy showed a higher annual change in total cholesterol of 0.12 mmol/l per 10 years (95% confidence interval (CI): 0, 0.23) compared to children whose mothers did not smoke in pregnancy. Larger effect estimates were found in children with moderate overweight (0.39 mmol/l per 10 years (95% CI: 0.14, 0.63). HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol showed tendencies towards a decrease and increase, respectively, in children of mothers who smoked in pregnancy compared to children whose mothers did not smoke in pregnancy. Adjustment for potential confounders did not materially change the effect estimates.

Conclusion: This study suggests for the first time that maternal smoking in pregnancy is associated with an increased rise in total cholesterol levels and a tendency towards an adverse lipoprotein profile in the offspring.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution