Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Parental Smoking During Pregnancy Linked with Later Diabetes in Children

Michelle La Merrill, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
NIEHS grant R00ES019919

A study, funded in part by NIEHS, found that women with parents who smoked during pregnancy had an increased risk for developing diabetes as adults, independent of birth weight and current body mass index (BMI).

The researchers analyzed data from 1,801 daughters of women who participated in the Child Health and Development Studies, an ongoing project of the Public Health Institute. The daughters, ages 44 to 54 years old at the time of analysis, were two to three times more likely to have diabetes as adults if their mothers smoked while pregnant. The association remained after adjustment for parental race, diabetes, and employment. Dads who smoked while their daughter was in utero also contributed to an increased diabetes risk for their child, but to a lesser extent than the mothers. The effect of parental smoking was unchanged when adjusted for daughters’ birth weight or current BMI, both of which are risk factors for diabetes. The data set was originally collected to study early risk of breast cancer, which is why sons are not included.

The results provide further evidence that pregnant women should try to avoid being around cigarette smoke.

Citation: La Merrill MA, Cirillo PM, Krigbaum NY, Cohn BA. 2015. The impact of prenatal parental tobacco smoking on risk of diabetes mellitus in middle-aged women. J Dev Orig Health Dis; doi:10.1017/S2040174415000045 [Online 10 February 2015].

to Top