Washington: A new study has found that mothers who smoke during pregnancy lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in their offspring, which may well predispose them to later heart attack and stroke.
Australian researchers showed that, by the age of eight years, children born to mothers who smoked while they were pregnant had HDL cholesterol levels of about 1.3 millimoles per litre, compared to the more normal level of 1.5 mmol/L in children born to mothers who had not smoked.
After adjustments for various factors that might affect the result, the difference attributable to mothers’ smoking was about 0.15 mmol/L.
The researchers believe that the lower levels of HDL cholesterol at this age suggest there could be a serious impact on health in later life, as the children will probably continue to have low levels in adulthood.
“Our results suggest that maternal smoking ‘imprints’ an unhealthy set of characteristics on children while they are developing in the womb, which may well predispose them to later heart attack and stroke. This imprinting seems to last for at least eight years and probably a lot longer,” said David Celermajer, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sydney, Australia, who led the study.
The study was published online in the European Heart Journal.