Background: Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with offspring obesity. However, little is known about whether maternal smoking in pregnancy predicts other offspring cardiovascular risk factors including waist circumference (WC), waist-hip-ratio (WHR), pulse rate (PR), systolic (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).
Methods: We studied a sub-sample of 2038 (50% males) young adults who were born in Brisbane, Australia to investigate the prospective association of maternal smoking during pregnancy with young adult cardiovascular risk factors. We compared offspring mean BMI, WC, WHR, SBP, DBP and PR and the risk of being overweight and obese at 21 years by three mutually exclusive categories of maternal smoking status defined as never smoked, smoked before and/or after pregnancy but not in pregnancy or smoked during pregnancy and other times.
Results: Offspring of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had greater mean BMI, WC, WHR and PR and they were at greater risk of being obese at 21 years compared to offspring of those mothers who never smoked. The mean of these risk factors among those adult offspring whose mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy, but who then smoked at other times in the child's life, were similar to those mothers who never smoked. These results were independent of a range of potential confounding factors.
Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest a prospective association of maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring obesity as well as PR in adulthood, and reinforce the need to persuade pregnant women not to smoke.