Study Suggests Link Between Adult Diabetes, Exposure to Smoke in Womb

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SATURDAY, March 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Women who were exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb may be at increased risk for diabetes, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at about 1,800 women with diabetes, aged 44 to 54, in California. They found a strong link between their diabetes and parental smoking during pregnancy.

Smoking by mothers was associated with a stronger risk of diabetes than smoking by fathers, the researchers said. The link between parents' smoking and higher diabetes risk remained even after the researchers compensated for factors such as race or a woman's birth weight or current body-mass index.

The study was scheduled for presentation Saturday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, in San Diego. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

While the study doesn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between smoking in pregnancy and a daughter's diabetes, it adds to evidence that prenatal environmental chemical exposures might contribute to adult diabetes, the researchers said.

"From a public health perspective, reduced fetal environmental tobacco smoke exposure appears to be an important modifiable risk factor for diabetes mellitus in offspring," lead author Michele La Merrill, an assistant professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Davis, said in an Endocrine Society news release.

Further studies are needed to confirm these results, the researchers said. However, they suggest that doctors advise pregnant smokers to quit and avoid smoke exposure to reduce diabetes risk in their adult children.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about smoking during pregnancy.