A new study is warning that smoking during pregnancy can affect the growth of a woman’s future grandchildren. The findings, published in the American Journal of Human Biology reveal that the effects of smoking during pregnancy may affect up to four generations – even if the offspring or their mothers never light up for themselves.
When the paternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, granddaughters were taller and grandsons had a greater bone and muscle mass. When the maternal grandmother smoked, the grandsons were heavier than expected during adolescence. If both grandmothers smoked, granddaughters had lesser height and weight compared with girls whose mothers, but not grandmothers, smoked during pregnancy.
The researchers did not look into why the health effects through generations occurred, only found patterns consistent with generational maternal smoking.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 women smoke in the last trimester of pregnancy – a staggering amount when the consequences are serious. Smokers are more likely to suffer miscarriages and increase the chances of low birth weight, premature birth and certain birth defects.
Previous studies have also looked at cross-generationg effects of smoking including one last year that suggested a woman’s exposure to nicotine during pregnancy could increase her great-grandchild’s chances of asthma.