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Smoking During Pregnancy May Impact Children's Smoking

Maternal smoking in utero may affect smoking behaviors in adolescent offspring

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to smoke regularly themselves and to start smoking before age 14 than children whose mothers never smoked or who smoked at other times, according to study findings published online Nov. 28 in Tobacco Control.

Abdullah Al Mamun, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland in Australia, and colleagues evaluated smoking behaviors at 21 years of age in children whose mothers never smoked, smoked before or after but not during pregnancy, or smoked while pregnant. Data were derived from 3,058 mothers and offspring.

Young adults were more likely to be regular smokers if their mothers smoked while pregnant compared with those whose mothers never smoked. Smoking patterns for adolescents whose mothers ceased smoking while pregnant, but who smoked at other times, were similar to those who had mothers who never smoked. Overall, subjects whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were 2.74 times as likely to start smoking before age 14 and to be regular smokers, and 2.11 times as likely to start smoking at age 14 or older and smoke regularly, as the offspring of women who didn't smoke.

"Our findings suggest a direct effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy on young adults' development of regular smoking and provide yet another incentive to persuade pregnant women not to smoke and to discourage young women from ever taking it up," the authors conclude.

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