The negative effects of smoking while pregnant have been well-publicised, and this latest report from Australia highlights yet another frightening fallout.
A new study has found that the daughters of women who smoked while pregnant entered puberty at a younger age than their peers, sparking belief that smoking could significantly affect the child’s reproductive health.
This has raised concerns among medical experts, with previous research showing that those who menstruate early are at a higher risk of uterine, endometrial and breast cancers later in life.
The study, published in the health journal Human Reproduction, evaluated around 1,500 girls. As part of their research, experts looked at information such as their mother’s age when she began menstruating, the girl’s body weight, her birth weight, and her mother’s cigarette smoking.
At the end of the study, researchers found that girls exposed to regular smoking in utero were about 40% more likely to have an early age of first menstruation in comparison the daughters of non-smoking mothers.
Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author Alison Behie said that the most alarming part is that this may be only beginning when it comes to understanding the true extent of harm that smoking does to babies.
“The real take home message of this study is that we have probably just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of understanding just how harmful smoking during pregnancy can be on the child,” she said.