Smoking during pregnancy - potentially negative effect on reproductive health in the next generation..

April 16, 2010 - Teenage daughters of Western Australians (WA) mothers who smoked during pregnancy have been found to have ovaries 10 per cent smaller and a uterus 20 per cent smaller in groundbreaking Raine Study research looking for links between cigarettes and infertility.

PAPER: Prenatal Determinants of Uterine Volume and Ovarian Reserve in Adolescence
Roger Hart, Deborah M. Sloboda, Dorota A. Doherty, Robert J. Norman, Helen C. Atkinson, John P. Newnham, Jan E. Dickinson and Martha Hickey The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 94, No. 12 4931-4937, ABSTRACT..

Ultrasound imaging was used to compare the reproductive systems of 200 16-year-old girls followed since before birth, with investigations in the past three years done by the University of WA's School of Women's and Infants' Health. The researchers said the results indicated that maternal smoking, but not variations in foetal growth, in particular may lead to a significant reduction in uterine volume.

UWA reproductive medicine professor Roger Hart said: "The next follow-up is, what exactly does that mean? Well basically, nobody has ever studied that before, so we do not know. "But ask me in 10 to 20 years, when these girls are trying to get pregnant and we might find some correlation." Smaller uterine size is known to be associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and failed implantation.

The findings of this first prospective study to measure the relationship between foetal (fetal) growth, maternal tobacco smoking in pregnancy, uterine and ovarian volume and ovarian reserve in adolescents.

The WA researchers said the study had not only highlighted the environment, particularly maternal smoking, had a potentially negative effect on reproductive health in the next generation, it also had offered opportunities to understand the mechanisms of uterine and ovarian development and for early intervention to improve reproductive health.

Reference: Tobacco dangers in pregnancy, Marnie McKimmie, The West Australian, 4/12/2010.