08/19/2014 12:17 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2014

Smoking During Pregnancy Affects Not Only Children, But Grandchildren

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You know that it's really bad for your kids if you smoke while pregnant. But the consequences of smoking during pregnancy actually last more than just one generation.

A new study says that smoking during pregnancy affects not only your children, but also your grandchildren. The findings, published in the American Journal of Human Biology, say the effects of smoking during pregnancy affect your grandchildren, even if their mother is a non-smoker.

British researchers used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children and noted differences in height and mass among children with grandmothers who had smoked during their pregnancies, even if the mother was a non-smoker.

When the paternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy, granddaughters were taller and grandsons had a greater bone and muscle mass. When the maternal grandmother smoked, the grandsons were heavier than expected during adolescence. If both grandmothers smoked, granddaughters had lesser height and weight compared with girls whose mothers, but not grandmothers, smoked during pregnancy.

The CDC estimates that one in 10 women smoke during the last trimester of pregnancy. Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to suffer miscarriages, low birth weight, premature birth, and have children with certain birth defects.

"These likely transgenerational effects from the grandmothers’ smoking in pregnancy need to be taken into account in future studies of the effects of maternal smoking on child growth and development," study author Marcus Pembrey of the University of Bristol said in a release. Pembrey said future studies could be used to analyze the generational impacts of certain behaviors.

Previous studies have also studied the cross-generational health effects of smoking. Last year, one study suggested that a woman's exposure to nicotine during pregnancy could increase her great-grandchild's chances of asthma.

Just another reason to put out that cigarette.



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