ESPE Abstracts (2014) 82 FC10.5

Contrasting Associations of Maternal Smoking and Alcohol Intake in Late Pregnancy and Offspring Body Composition in Childhood

Rebecca Moona,b, Stefania D’Angeloa, Justin Daviesb, Elaine Dennisona, Sian Robinsona, Hazel Inskipa, Keith Godfreya,c, Nicholas Harveya,c & Cyrus Coopera,d


aMRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire, UK; bPaediatric Endocrinology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK; cNIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK; dNIHR Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK


Background: There is increasing recognition that the in utero environment might influence obesity risk.

Objective and Hypotheses: We explored the hypothesis that smoking and alcohol consumption in pregnancy are associated with offspring body composition using the Southampton Women’s Survey mother-offspring birth cohort study.

Method: At 34 weeks’ gestation, maternal smoking and any alcohol intake in the preceding 12 weeks were determined by interview. At birth and 6 years of age, body composition was assessed by whole body DXA.

Results: 1075 children were assessed at 6 years; 474 of these children also had a DXA at birth. 11% of mothers had smoked, and 77% consumed alcohol. The relationships between maternal smoking and offspring body composition differed between birth and 6 years: at birth, infants of smokers weighed less (β=−0.30SD, P=0.001) and were less adipose (total fat mass (FM) β=−0.43SD, P=0.005; %FM: β=−0.41SD P=0.006). In contrast, at 6 years, children of smokers were heavier (β=0.31SD, P=0.001) and had greater total FM (β=0.36SD, P<0.0001) and %FM (β=0.38SD, P<0.0001). Total lean mass (LM) was also higher, but %LM lower. Although offspring body composition at birth did not differ by maternal alcohol intake, at 6 years, the associations contrasted with those observed with smoking. Thus, offspring of mothers who had consumed alcohol were of similar weight, but had greater LM (β=0.23, P=0.002) and %LM (β=0.15SD, P=0.052) than children of mothers who abstained. Total FM was similar. These associations were robust to mutual adjustment and for multiple maternal and offspring confounders.

Conclusion: Offspring of mothers who smoked in late pregnancy were lighter at birth, but heavier and more adipose at 6 years of age. In contrast, offspring of mothers who consumed alcohol had greater LM at 6 years. The underlying mechanisms are unknown, but could result from a combination of long-lasting epigenetic modifications during the perinatal period, and postnatal environmental factors.

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