Smoking during pregnancy may be associated with overweight children

It's no secret that women should not smoke during pregnancy. Recently, a study on the matter published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood found that this bad habit may be associated with weight gain in kids.

Approximately one in every three children in the U.S. is either overweight or obese, according to Let's Move, the White House's collaboration with other federal agencies to inspire the country to raise a healthier generation of kids. If this issue is not addressed, one-third of all children born in 2000 or later will potentially develop diabetes at some point during their lives. In addition, others may suffer from cardiovascular problems, cancer or asthma.

British researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on previous studies to look at the connection between smoking during pregnancy and overweight children. Data included information collected from babies beginning at birth until 2 years old. They discovered that there are several important maternal risk factors that may contribute to children's weight. In particular, maternal smoking increased the likelihood of overweight children by almost 50 percent.

The study's investigators took this information one step further, since there is no cause-and-effect relationship between maternal smoking and the weight of the child. This may indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy make other social and lifestyle choices that could affect a baby.

"Several risk factors for both overweight and obesity in childhood are identifiable during infancy," concluded the authors of the study. "Future research needs to focus on whether it is clinically feasible for healthcare professionals to identify infants at greatest risk."

If you saw a woman who recently got pregnant and was still in the process of quitting, what would you say to her? Leave your answers in the comments section!