Young men whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had lower aerobic fitness compared to those whose mothers did not, according to a study published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The small Finnish study looked at the impact of maternal smoking on the long-term health of male offspring.
Of the 508 young men with an average age of 19 included in the study, 59 of their mothers smoked more than one cigarette a day throughout pregnancy. They were found to have lower aerobic fitness measured by ability on a running test.
Fitness was also independently associated with their own smoking status, weight and physical activity.
The study also found that higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and excessive weight gain during pregnancy were associated with lower aerobic fitness in the offspring.
“Our study adds to the existing evidence base of the negative and long-standing impacts of maternal smoking,” said Dr Maria Hagnäs from the University of Oulu, the lead author.
“Women must receive advice and support to help them stop smoking during pregnancy, as well guidance on how to maintain a healthy weight to minimise the risks to their unborn child.”