Introduction Intrauterine life has been identified as a critical period for the development of obesity. Research has consistently shown that prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoke (PEMCS) is associated with a number of adverse fetal, obstetrical and developmental outcomes. While PEMCS has emerged as an important risk factor for overweight in offspring, no consensus exists on the pattern or duration of impact. This study seeks to further examine the role of PEMCS on developmental body mass index (BMI) trajectories in children up to 10 years of age.
Methods Data on mother–child pairs (n=1291) was obtained from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which includes a range of social and biological information on child development. Developmental BMI trajectories were established empirically, with a group based modelling strategy, using repeated measurements of height of weight up to age 10. This approach (TRAJ) complements both hierarchical and latent growth curve modelling for analysing developmental trajectories.
Results Four distinct BMI trajectories were identified: early onset overweight (4.4%), increasing to overweight (2.7%), stable overweight (26.1%) and never overweight (66.8%). PEMCS was associated with increased risk of overweight at age 10 (OR: 3.3, 95% CI 1.96 to 5.57) and with trajectory membership (p<0.003).
Conclusions The elevated risk of excess weight among the offspring of smoking mothers supports the paradigm of in utero and early life obesity prevention. Our approach to longitudinal childhood weight analysis, which allows for heterogeneous population trajectories, may help to improve our understanding of the different pathways leading to obesity in adulthood.
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