Effects of maternal smoking on offspring reproductive outcomes: an intergenerational study in the North East of Scotland

Sam Tweed* (Corresponding Author), Sohinee Bhattacharya, Paul A. Fowler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION
How does exposure to cigarette smoke in utero influence women's reproductive outcomes?
SUMMARY ANSWER
Women exposed to cigarette smoke in utero were more likely to have a pregnancy and more likely to experience miscarriage.
WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN
Existing epidemiological studies have been inconsistent, but generally suggest a small decrease in fertility of women exposed to cigarette smoke in utero.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
This cohort study included all women born prior to 31st December 1972 as recorded in the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank. Exposure to maternal cigarette smoking in utero was retrieved from their birth records within the database. The primary outcome was any pregnancy occurring in the offspring over the course of their reproductive life. The 12 321 eligible women were followed up for 40 years for any pregnancies and the outcome of those pregnancies recorded in the same database.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
Within the cohort, 3836 women were exposed to cigarette smoke and 8485 women were not exposed to cigarette smoke in utero. Generalized estimating equations were used to generate odds ratios (OR) and 95% CIs for all outcomes with adjustment made for all differences between groups at baseline.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
The study did not find a link between exposure to cigarette smoke in utero and a decrease in fertility. Women exposed to cigarette smoke in utero were more likely to have a pregnancy than those whose mother did not smoke; adjusted OR = 1.25 (95% CIs: 1.13–1.38). Women exposed to cigarette smoke in utero were also likely to have a pregnancy earlier (adjusted OR for age at first delivery ≤19 years 1.31 [95% CIs: 1.12–1.54)] than those not exposed. Women exposed to cigarette smoke in utero were significantly more likely to have a miscarriage than those not exposed; adjusted OR = 1.16 (95% CIs: 1.01–1.32).
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
Although the cohort in this study was large, there were women for whom exposure data was unavailable. Data on the adult circumstances of women who did not record a pregnancy was unavailable, precluding adjustment for their own smoking status or social class. In addition, women who migrated from the area or chose childlessness voluntarily were not included in the study.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
Despite the wide-ranging harmful effects of cigarette smoke on foetal reproductive development, the effect at a population level remains uncertain. An increased risk of miscarriage in women exposed to cigarette smoke is a potentially important novel finding, which should be investigated further. This study illustrates the lack of consensus on the reproductive effects of in utero cigarette exposure, compelling continuing study in this important area.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberhox006
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction Open
Volume2017
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • smoking
  • pregnancy
  • fertility
  • in utero
  • miscarriage

Cite this