Maternal smoking during pregnancy could cause biological aging and influence fetal growth

Two studies led by ISGlobal have analyzed the consequences of different exposures during pregnancy and the early stages of life.

About 1 in 10 European women smoke during pregnancy. Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

A scientific team from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has concluded, in a recent study, that exposure to tobacco smoke and soot during pregnancy and the first years of life accelerates biological aging, a fact that could lead to worse health in the future.

The study has analyzed, in a pioneering way in children, the association between the exposome (the set of environmental exposures) and an increase in epigenetic age (the age according to our DNA) in 1,173 girls and boys between 6 and 11 years old, from six European countries. Thus, tobacco smoke and soot from the home (from air pollution) are the exposures that have been most associated with the acceleration of the epigenetic clock.

“The association between epigenetic age and exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and the first years of life agrees with previous results obtained in the adult population”
Mariona Bustamante, ISGlobal researcher and last author of the study.

Tobacco could also affect fetal growth

In another study by the same team led by Mariona Bustamante, researchers have concluded that maternal smoking during pregnancy could lead to DNA methylation of the placenta, which in turn is associated with a worse delivery outcome or shorter stature and birth weight.

The project is a meta-analysis of seven studies that collectively look at data from 1,700 mothers from Australia, France, Spain, Canada and the USA.

With these results, and pending further research, the need to apply health policies that minimize these exposures to tobacco and promote healthy childhood and aging is highlighted.

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