Fetal growth retardation due to maternal tobacco smoke exposure in the rat

Pediatr Res. 1984 Feb;18(2):127-30. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198402000-00002.


Smoking during pregnancy results in offspring with an average birth weight 200 g less than those of non-smoking mothers. The pathogenesis of this effect is still unknown and there is no general agreement about the causal relationship between maternal smoking and subsequent fetal growth retardation. In the present study, a model of maternal smoking during pregnancy in the rat was established using the P & I Walton Exposure Machine. The study consisted of three groups: control, pair-fed, and smoke-exposed. Smoke-exposed animals were exposed continuously to tobacco smoke for cycles of 7 min, 16 times a day from d 5 to d 20 of gestation. On d 21 of gestation, fetuses from all groups were removed by cesarean section, weighed, and dissected. The fetal brain, liver, and lungs as well as the placentas were weighed and analyzed for nucleic acid content. Fetal weight was found to be significantly reduced in both pair-fed and smoke-exposed groups compared with the control group. There was also a significant reduction in fetal body weight of the animals in the smoke-exposed group in comparison to those in the pair-fed group. Exposing the mother to smoke affected neither fetal brain weight nor nucleic acid content whereas fetal liver and lungs showed a significant decrease in both weight and nucleic acid content. These results indicate that the fetal growth retardation associated with maternal exposure to tobacco smoke in the rat corresponds to a disproportionate type.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Litter Size
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Smoking*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • RNA
  • DNA