Maternal smoking may lead to reproductive health issues in daughters
Mothers who smoked during pregnancy had daughters who showed signs of increased testosterone exposure, which could result in long-term reproductive health problems, according to findings presented at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting.
“Increased testosterone exposure may lead to increased risk of altered ovarian development and function, and reproductive health and fertility may be affected in the future,” study researcher Deniz Özalp Kızılay, MD, of the Cigli State Training Hospital in Turkey, told Healio Primary Care. “Long-term metabolic and behavioural effects, such as male-gendered behaviours, may also be observed in female offspring.”
In the study, researchers used anogenital distance in infants as a marker to determine how much testosterone they were exposed to during development. They compared anogenital distance in 56 newborn girls and 64 newborn boys born to mothers who smoked with that of newborns whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy.
Among female infants included in the study, smoke exposure during pregnancy was associated with significantly increased weight-adjusted anogenital distance. The amount a mother smoked daily was significantly associated with anogenital distance in female infants, but smoke exposure did not appear to affect anogenital distance in male infants, the researchers said.
“The mechanisms behind the potential reproductive consequences of exposure to cigarette smoking in utero are not fully understood,” Kızılay told Healio Primary Care. “Our results suggest that female infants exposed to maternal smoking experience elevated androgen exposure, however we have no data or research on the cause-and-effect relationship.”
Kızılay and colleagues noted that they plan to monitor the female infants from their study to assess the long-term effects of excessive testosterone exposure caused by prenatal smoking on general and reproductive health. – by Erin Michael
Kızılay, et al. Prenatal smoke-exposure is associated with increased anogenital distance in female infants. Presented at: European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting; Sept. 19-21, 2019; Vienna.
Disclosure: Kızılay reports no relevant financial disclosures.