Objective: Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been shown to be associated with obesity in the offspring, but findings have been based mainly on BMI, which is derived from height and weight. This study examined the association between maternal and partner smoking during pregnancy and offspring total fat, truncal fat, and lean mass in childhood.
Research Methods and Procedures: Analysis was based on 5689 white singletons born in 1991–1992 and enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, with maternal smoking data recorded for at least one trimester in pregnancy and their own body composition assessed by DXA at mean age 9.9 years.
Results: Smoking at any time during pregnancy was associated with higher offspring BMI [0.18 (95% confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.25) standard deviation units] and total fat mass [0.17 (95% confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.23) standard deviation units], after adjustment for age, sex, height, and height squared for total fat mass. These associations were not attenuated by adjustment for the confounding factors that were measured. Maternal smoking was also associated with lean mass and, to a lesser extent, truncal fat mass. Associations with partner's smoking were in the same direction but weaker than those of the mother's for all outcomes.
Discussion: Maternal smoking at any time during pregnancy is associated with higher offspring total fat mass at mean age 9.9 years. However, as the associations with partner smoking were only a little weaker than those with maternal smoking, confounding by social factors rather than a direct effect of maternal smoking is a possible explanation.