Maternal Smoking May Lower Children's HDL Cholesterol

Children's lower HDL levels due to prenatal not subsequent tobacco smoke exposure

THURSDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy 8-year-olds whose mothers smoked during pregnancy may have reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, according to a study published online June 21 in the European Heart Journal.

Julian G. Ayer, M.B.B.S., from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues analyzed the effect of smoking during pregnancy, and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) since birth, on the arterial wall thickness and lipoprotein levels of healthy 8-year-old children. Data were collected from 616 newborn infants using questionnaires, and follow-up measurements of lipoproteins, blood pressure (BP), and carotid intima-media thickness were recorded for 405 children.

The investigators found that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy had significantly lower HDL cholesterol (1.32 versus 1.50 mmol/L), higher triglycerides (1.36 versus 1.20 mmol/L), and higher systolic BP (102.1 versus 99.9 mm Hg). Maternal smoking during pregnancy remained significantly correlated with children's lower HDL cholesterol, but not higher systolic BP, after adjusting for maternal passive smoking, postnatal ETS exposure, gender, breast-feeding duration, physical inactivity, and adiposity. Smoking in pregnancy and postnatal ETS exposure were not associated with changes in carotid artery wall thickness.

"We have demonstrated that maternal smoking in pregnancy is associated with lower HDL cholesterol (by ~0.14 mmol/L) in healthy 8-year-old children. This is independent of any subsequent effects of ETS exposure in the child," the authors write.

The study was partially funded by Pfizer Inc.

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