HHS Healthbeat

Smoking, mothers and daughters

A study indicates pregnant women who smoke and have higher stress hormones are more likely to have daughters who take up smoking.

At The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, Laura Stroud looked at data from a long-running study involving almost 1,100 pregnant women – and their children, who were interviewed as adults.

Stroud looked at the stress hormone cortisol and the nicotine byproduct cotinine in the blood of the pregnant women. She says that when mothers smoked and had high cortisol levels, the likelihood was higher that the daughter would smoke.

“It was sort of an additive risk – so if your mom smoked during pregnancy and had sort of a high stress hormone level.”

She says daughters were particularly vulnerable.

The study in the journal Biological Psychiatry was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at healthfinder.gov.

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.


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