Foetal tobacco and cannabis exposure, body fat and cardio-metabolic health in childhood

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Background: Foetal tobacco and cannabis exposure may have persistent cardio-metabolic consequences in the offspring. Objective: We examined the associations of maternal and paternal tobacco and cannabis use during pregnancy with offspring body fat and cardio-metabolic outcomes. Methods: In a population-based prospective cohort study among 4792 mothers, fathers, and children, we assessed parental substance use by questionnaires. Childhood outcomes included body mass index (BMI), body fat, blood pressure, and lipid, glucose and insulin concentrations at 10 years. Results: Children exposed to maternal tobacco use during pregnancy had a higher android/gynoid fat mass ratio (difference 0.22 SDS, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.13, 0.30), fat mass index (difference 0.20 SDS, 95% CI: 0.12, 0.28), triglyceride concentrations (difference 0.15 SDS, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.26), and a higher risk of overweight (odds ratio [OR] 1.35, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.71), compared to non-exposed. Children exposed to maternal cannabis during pregnancy had a higher BMI (difference 0.26 SDS, 95% CI: 0.08, 0.44), android/gynoid fat mass ratio (difference 0.21 SDS, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.39), and fat-free mass index (difference 0.24 SDS, 95% CI: 0.06, 0.41), compared to non-exposed. The associations for paternal substance use with child cardio-metabolic health outcomes were similar as those for maternal use. Conclusions: Similar associations for maternal and paternal substance use during pregnancy suggest that these findings may be explained by shared family-based social and lifestyle factors, rather than by direct foetal programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12863
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric obesity
Issue number3
Early online date21 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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