Smokers’ kids an obesity risk
THE children of poorer mothers who smoked during pregnancy have an increased risk of the “double whammy” of obesity and depression from early childhood, a new study shows.
The strong link between lowincome mothers who smoked while pregnant and the co-existence of obesity and depression in their children was discovered by a team at the University of Western Australia as part of the long-running Raine Study.
PhD student Sunil Bhat, with the support of UWA Emeritus Professor of Medicine Lawrence Beilin and other researchers, made the discovery after researching 20-year-olds who were the second generation of participants in the Raine Study.
Professor Beilin said the children were identified as obese as early as five years old and showed symptoms of depression as early as eight years old.
“We found those mothers who smoked in pregnancy were the ones whose offspring were most likely to be both overweight and more likely to be depressed or have symptoms of depression. So it’s a two-way street,” he said.
“But the offspring of mothers who didn’t smoke didn’t show this relationship.
“They could be overweight but they were not particularly prone to depression.
“Then we looked at this a bit further. While there is this very specific effect of smoking during pregnancy, was smoking doing something to the foetus in the womb? Or was it more related to the general socio-economic background, family behaviours and environmental factors.
“So we looked at income. If you picked out the lowest income when the mums were pregnant, it was those in the lowest income categories who showed this co-association with obesity and depression.”