In-utero exposure to maternal smoking is not linked to tobacco use in adulthood after controlling for genetic and family influences: a Swedish sibling study
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- Rydell, M., Granath, F., Cnattingius, S. et al. Eur J Epidemiol (2014) 29: 499. doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9912-5
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Previous studies have linked maternal smoking during pregnancy with regular tobacco use in offspring, but findings are not consistent and confounding from genetic and environmental factors have not fully been taken into account. A comparison between siblings discordant for prenatal smoking exposure adjusts for confounding by shared familial (i.e., genetic and environmental) factors. We investigated the association between prenatal exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of regular smoking or snus (Swedish moist smokeless tobacco) use in young adult offspring, using a population based matched cohort study. The cohort consisted of 1,538 randomly sampled same-sex sibling pairs, discordant for maternal smoking during pregnancy, 19–27 years old, participating in a survey conducted in Sweden 2010–2011. Lifetime and current history of tobacco use was self-reported in the survey, and information about maternal smoking during pregnancy was retrieved from the Medical Birth Register. Conditional logistic regression and stratified Cox proportional hazards regression were used to calculate odds ratios, hazard ratios, and corresponding 95 % confidence intervals. Analyses of exposure-discordant siblings did not reveal significant associations between prenatal exposure to maternal smoking and lifetime or current daily tobacco use, intensity of use, or time to onset of daily tobacco use. These findings suggest that the previously reported higher risks of tobacco use in offspring of mothers who smoked during pregnancy, compared with offspring of non-smoking mothers, were likely due to confounding from genetic or environmental factors.