European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 166, Issue 7, pp 685–692 | Cite as

Course of growth during the first 6 years in children exposed in utero to tobacco smoke

  • Theodoros A. Kanellopoulos
  • Anastasia A. Varvarigou
  • Ageliki A. Karatza
  • Nicholas G. BeratisEmail author
Original Paper



Postnatal growth in children exposed in utero to tobacco smoke is not well understood. This study investigated growth during the first 6 years in children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.

Materials and methods

Weight, length, and head circumference were measured annually for 6 years in 100 children in each group of smoking (study) and nonsmoking (control) mothers.


Weight and head circumference were significantly smaller in the neonates whose mothers smoked ≥15 cigarettes/day, but the difference disappeared by 3 years of life. Length was significantly smaller in the study neonates at birth, followed by increasing divergence from normality up to 2 years, when the mean difference of children whose mothers smoked ≥15 cigarettes/day from control children was −3.4 cm (p ≤ 0.0001). Subsequently, they manifested catch-up growth ,and the difference from the controls at 3, 4, 5, and 6 years was −2.5 cm (p ≤ 0.0001), −2.2 cm (p = 0.005), −2.1 cm (p = 0.013), and −1.9 cm (p = 0.055), respectively.


The delayed growth was related to smoking per se and appeared to be independent of several confounding factors. At birth, there was a significant negative correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the growth parameters studied; it remained significant up to the 6 year only for length.


Length exhibits the most persistent growth delay of the parameters studied, but catch-up growth occurs after the second year of life, and thus, intrauterine exposure to tobacco smoke seems to have no permanent effect on children’s growth.


Postnatal growth Weight Head circumference Length Maternal smoking 



analysis of variance


body mass index


confidence interval


difference of the mean


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodoros A. Kanellopoulos
    • 1
  • Anastasia A. Varvarigou
    • 1
  • Ageliki A. Karatza
    • 1
  • Nicholas G. Beratis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsGeneral University Hospital of Patras, University of Patras Medical SchoolRio, PatrasGreece

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