Adult daughters of mothers who smoked during pregnancy more likely to be short, obese - research finds

New research has revealed smoking during pregnancy can have major implications on the physical health of babies as they develop.

The Liggins Institute found daughters of women who smoked during the early stages of pregnancy were 50 per cent more likely to be overweight and shorter as adults when compared to those with mothers who didn't smoke.

Scientists say it's likely down to the harmful chemicals in cigarettes affecting genes involved in growth.

Previous research has also found similar risks for male babies.

Lead investigator Dr José Derraik says it appears that harmful chemicals in cigarettes change the way babies' genes are expressed.

"When a woman smokes during pregnancy, chemicals from the cigarettes travel through her bloodstream across the placenta and then to the baby, permanently changing the way the baby's body uses and stores energy, he says.

"Some of these chemicals can interfere with growth, which probably explains why babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are often smaller.”

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Dr Derraik says research in the US showed that smoking during pregnancy seems to make babies better at forming fat cells.

“This would be useful in helping a small baby grow faster, but it would also explain, at least in part, why they have a greater risk of obesity later in life."

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