Maternal smoking in pregnancy association with childhood adiposity and blood pressure

Pediatr Obes. 2016 Jun;11(3):202-9. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12046. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Background: Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been associated with increased risk of childhood overweight/obesity defined by body mass index (BMI). We examined its association with a range of adiposity measures and cardiovascular indicators in children aged 3-10 years.

Methods: We used data from a cross-sectional study of schoolchildren across mainland Portuguese districts (2009-2010). We applied quantile regressions to examine maternal smoking associations with adiposity (n = 17 286), blood pressure (BP) and resting pulse rate (RPR) (n ≈ 2500) measures across the age range, adjusting for prenatal and early life factors.

Results: Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with increases in offspring adiposity levels. The difference in median BMI between children of smokers and non-smokers was 0.39 kg m(-2) (95% confidence interval: 0.25, 0.53) in boys and 0.46 kg m(-2) (0.31, 0.62) in girls; 0.55 cm (0.24, 0.87) and 0.82 cm (0.45, 1.19), respectively, in median waist circumference; and 0.94 mm (0.49, 1.40) and 1.47 mm (0.87, 2.07) in median sum of (triceps, subscapular, suprailiac) skin-folds. The associations appeared to be stronger with increasing age. The differences in the 90th centile tended to be greater than those in median. There was no consistent association of maternal smoking with BP and RPR.

Conclusions: Children whose mother smoked during pregnancy had higher adiposity levels than children of non-smokers, across several measures, particularly among older children. Although there was no consistent association with cardiovascular indicators, maternal smoking association with childhood obesity may have implications for cardiovascular risk factors over the life course.

Keywords: Adiposity; blood pressure; children; maternal smoking in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Overweight / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Waist Circumference