Parental smoking in utero increases diabetes risk for adult women

Thu, 12 Feb 2015
An increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood is linked to tobacco smoke exposure in the womb.

Researchers at the University of California at Davis analysed data from 1,800 daughters of women who had participated in the Child Health and Development Studies. They were all aged between 44 and 54.

The studies were designed to assess how parental smoking during gestation influenced the risk for diabetes, with the women recruited between 1959 and 1967.

Relation to diabetes

The researchers observed that the women exposed to maternal smoking while in utero (in the womb) were two to three times more likely to develop diabetes in adulthood.

For the women whose fathers smoked in utero, an increased diabetes risk was noted, but researchers added that further studies need to be conducted to establish the extent of the risk.

Birth weight was not found to influence whether the daughters of parents who smoked in utero developed diabetes. However, an increase in the mean BMI of daughters was linked to paternal smoking during pregnancy. Maternal smoking, however, was not significant for BMI.

"Our findings are consistent with the idea that gestational environmental chemical exposures can contribute to the development of health and disease," said lead author Michele La Merrill, assistant professor of environmental toxicology at UC Davis.

"We found that smoking of parents is by itself a risk factor for diabetes, independent of obesity or birth weight. If a parent smokes, you’re not protected from diabetes just because you’re lean." La Merrill added.
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