Smoking in pregnancy leaves legacy

SMOKING during pregnancy – which remains as high as 15% – should be viewed as a marker for raised cardiovascular risk in adult offspring, experts say.

Australian research involving 400 healthy children at age eight years found those exposed to maternal smoking in utero had HDL cholesterol levels of 1.32 mmol/L compared to 1.5 mmol/L in those born to non-smokers.

The association between maternal smoking and reduced HDL levels remained significant after adjusting for post-natal passive smoking, breastfeeding duration, adiposity and other potential confounders.

Lead author, cardiologist and researcher Professor David Celermajer, from the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said while the mechanism remained unknown, it appeared a possibly lifelong HDL deficit may be one of the unhealthy effects that maternal smoking “imprints” on a child.

“[This] may well predispose them to later heart