Maternal smoking and fetal lung volume-an in utero MRI investigation

Prenat Diagn. 2011 May;31(5):491-5. doi: 10.1002/pd.2725. Epub 2011 Feb 24.


Objective: To investigate whether fetal lung volume and fetal lung volume growth over gestation are different in mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy compared to non-smoking controls.

Method: Cross-sectional retrospective study of the data of 200 consecutive singleton pregnancies that underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Fetal lung volumes of 32 fetuses of mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy were compared to 168 fetuses of non-smoking controls.

Results: Cases reported smoking between 2 and 30 cigarettes per day. The mean number of cigarettes per day for cases was 10.2 ± 6.1. After logarithmic transformation, lung volumes showed a linear increase with gestational age (r(2) = 0.7). Multiple regression analysis revealed a significant influence of gestational age (p < 0.0001) but not maternal smoking status (p = 1.0) on fetal lung volumes. Comparison of the relative difference between observed and predicted lung volumes for both groups by means of unpaired t-test revealed no significant influence of maternal smoking status on this variable (p = 0.9).

Conclusions: Fetuses of mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy show similar lung volumes and lung volume growth in MRI compared to non-smoking controls. Our data suggest that a reduced lung volume is not responsible for the increase in respiratory symptoms associated with prenatal smoking.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects*
  • Fetal Development / physiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung Volume Measurements / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*