Pregnancy smoking risks baby boy's sportiness

Mothers who smoke are putting more than their own health at risk.

Washington DC: Smoking while pregnancy may leave your adult son less sporty, according to a new study.

The study suggested that mothers who smoke are putting more than their own health at risk. Young men whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had lower aerobic fitness compared to those whose mothers did not.

Results found that maternal smoking was associated with lower aerobic fitness of their children, which was measured by ability on a running test at the beginning of their military service assessment. Aerobic activity was also independently associated with their own smoking status, weight and physical activity.

The study also found that higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and excessive weight gain during pregnancy were associated with lower aerobic fitness in the offspring.

Lead author Maria Hagnas from the University of Oulu, Finland, said that women must receive advice and support to help them stop smoking during pregnancy, as well guidance on how to maintain a healthy weight to minimise the risks to their unborn child.

The health risks associated with smoking, and the benefits of stopping smoking, are well known. Mothers who smoke are at a higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine growth restriction, premature birth and stillbirth. Their babies are also more likely to suffer from birth defects, and neurological, psychological or behavioural difficulties.

In addition, babies born to mothers who smoke have a greater risk of asthma, chest and ear infections and pneumonia as well as being more susceptible to infant death syndrome. Although more likely to be small babies, they are at increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance (the precursor of diabetes) later in life.

The study appears in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG). 

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