Smoking during pregnancy 'raises child's obesity risk'

Mothers who smoke in pregnancy are putting their daughters at risk of gestational diabetes and obesity later in life, research has found.

Smoking: greater risk to infant (Photo: iStock)
Smoking: greater risk to infant (Photo: iStock)

Women born to smokers had up to 62% raised risk of gestational diabetes and up to 58% greater risk of obesity, according to a study examining the effects of early exposure to tobacco on adult health.

NHS figures show that 12.6% of mothers in England are smokers at the time of delivery, although numbers have fallen in recent years.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden analysed data from 80,189 pregnancies since 1982. They classified children's exposure to tobacco based on the mother's smoking habits. Women were classed as non-smokers, moderate smokers (one to nine cigarettes a day), or heavy smokers (more than nine cigarettes a day).

Researchers compared exposure levels to rates of gestational and non-gestational diabetes and obesity. The increased risk of gestational diabetes and obesity remained after adjusting for factors including age, BMI and mode of delivery.

They suggested early exposure to tobacco might affect the regulation of appetite and satiety.

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