Washington, May 20 (ANI): Kids whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and early childhood are more likely to take up smoking as teenagers and young adults, according to a study.
The study suggests that it is the compounding physical damage that such kids sustain from the exposure to smoke, which may lead them to indulge in smoking at an early age
"It is well-known that maternal smoking influences a developing fetus in myriad ways, contributing to low birth weight, premature birth and a host of other health problems after birth," said Dr. Roni Grad, associate professor of Clinical Paediatrics at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
He added: "Previous studies have suggested that maternal smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of the offspring becoming regular smokers as adults, but the impact of postnatal cigarette smoke exposure was hard to differentiate from prenatal exposure."
The researchers used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study to learn about the impact of maternal smoking during pregnancy and early childhood, and on the smoking behaviour of the offspring as young adults.
It was found that maternal smoking during pregnancy and the early childhood years was linked with the offspring being regular smokers at the age of 22, irrespective of whether the mother smoked during the school age years of the child.
Besides, offspring of mothers who smoked during pregnancy and early life were less likely to quit than those of mothers who had never smoked, or who had taken up the habit only when the child reaches the school age years.
And finally, the impact of early maternal smoking was independent of the effect of paternal smoking and also the effect of exposure to peer smoking during the offspring's adolescence.
"Smoking during pregnancy by mothers who stopped smoking by the time the child reached the school age years is a risk factor for smoking in their offspring during early adulthood," said Grad.
He added: "The data suggest that a biological effect is in play, and that eliminating maternal smoking during pregnancy and the preschool years of the child will reduce the risk of her children becoming regular smokers in adulthood. In children of mothers who did smoke during this critical period, it is important to prevent experimentation with tobacco during the adolescent years."
The study results will be presented at the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego. (ANI)