Essay on Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Childhood Obesity

Published: 2021/11/16
Number of words: 833


In the late 20th century, smoking was predominantly male activity and was associated with the class (Wehbe et al., 2018). Fast forward, the habit gained more audience, and nowadays, both men and women smoke tobacco. It is also evident that while many people still smoke tobacco, the numbers have been on the decline. One of the main reason for the decrease in tobacco smoking is the increasing knowledge of the harms the drug pose to the body. Maternal women are one of the most affected groups. This literature review analyzes recent publications to determine the link between maternal smoking and childhood obesity.

Need an essay assistance?
Our professional writers are here to help you.
Place an order


Maternal smoking is a major public health concern with well-known consequences to both the newborn and the mother. An example study that has investigated this include Magriplis et al. (2017). According to the findings of this study, the habit is linked to low birth weight, congenital disabilities of the lip and mouth, premature birth, besides increasing the risk of infant death syndrome. One of the under-investigated effects of maternal smoking is childhood obesity. Hidayat et al. (2019) investigated the association between exposure to mothers smoking and the risk of overweight at seven years of age. The study was carried out among Danish families. This investigation showed that exposure to smoking during or postnatal was significantly associated with being overweight for children aged seven years. Similar results were also noted in other studies (Magriplis et al., 2017; Ong KK et al., 2000).

Worry about your grades?
See how we can help you with our essay writing service.

According to Hidayat et al. (2019), maternal smoking has been proved to be linked to fetal growth restriction by close to 150-200g. Additionally, it is associated with fetal skeletal growth problems because the smoke hinders oxygen and nutrients supply to the developing fetal. In terms of the underlying mechanism linking maternal smoking to obesity, limited studies have been recently published. One explanation for this was noted in Ong KK et al. (2000), which indicated that the infant has to catch up growth in their early childhood due to the low birth weight. Another study carried out by Relph et al. (2020) noted the influence of socio-economic factors whereby women who smoked into their pregnancy often were low-economic status, and their children thus lacked adequate nutritional supplements to enable them to grow to become healthy teenagers. The maternal health status has also been pointed out as one of the contributing factors. In a study carried out by Christenson et al. (2019), the researchers noted a correlation between being overweight and maternal obesity and maternal gestational weight gain. Other studies have also hinted out that women who smoke post-delivery are less likely to breastfeed their children. This exposes young infants to being overweight because breast milk is required for the healthy growth and development of the child (Magriplis et al., 2017; Ong KK et al. 2000). Based on this evidence, it is evident that even after the child is born, the mother should limit exposure to smoking throughout the lactation period.


It is evident from the review that smoking during or after pregnancy can have dire health outcomes on the smoker and their children. The most prevalent effect of smoking being low birth weight, congenital disabilities of the lip and mouth and premature births. It is also believed that smoking while pregnant predisposes the child to a high likelihood of being overweight. Considering the adverse outcomes of childhood obesity, it is evident that effective preventive measures be adopted to reverse the trajectories and save the lives of innocent children. This review calls for the increased call to encourage smoking cessation among women of childbearing age.


Christenson, A., Johansson, E., Reynisdottir, S., Torgerson, J., & Hemmingsson, E. (2019). “… or else I close my ears” How women with obesity want to be approached and treated regarding gestational weight management: A qualitative interview study. PloS one14(9), e0222543.

Hidayat, K., Zou, S. Y., & Shi, B. M. (2019). The influence of maternal body mass index, maternal diabetes mellitus, and maternal smoking during pregnancy on the risk of childhood‐onset type 1 diabetes mellitus in the offspring: Systematic review and meta‐analysis of observational studies. Obesity Reviews20(8), 1106-1120.

Magriplis, E., Farajian, P., Panagiotakos, D. B., Risvas, G., & Zampelas, A. (2017). Maternal smoking and risk of obesity in school children: Investigating early life theory from the GRECO study. Preventive medicine reports8, 177-182.

Ong KK, Ahmed ML, Emmett PM, Preece MA, Dunger DB (2000) Association between postnatal catch-up growth and obesity in childhood: prospective cohort study. BMJ 320: 967–971.

Relph, S., Ong, M., Vieira, M. C., Pasupathy, D., & Sandall, J. (2020). Perceptions of risk and influences of choice in pregnant women with obesity. An evidence synthesis of qualitative research. PloS one15(1), e0227325.

Wehbe, L., Ubhi, H. K., & West, R. (2018). Want, need and habit as drivers of smoking behaviour: a preliminary analysis. Addictive behaviors76, 135-138.

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Online Chat Messenger Email
+44 800 520 0055