Grandmothers’ smoking in pregnancy is associated with a reduced prevalence of early-onset myopia

Cathy Williams*, Matthew Suderman, Jeremy A. Guggenheim, Genette Ellis, Steve Gregory, Yasmin Iles-Caven, Kate Northstone, Jean Golding, Marcus Pembrey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Myopia (near sightedness) is the most common vision disorder resulting in visual impairment worldwide. We tested the hypothesis that intergenerational, non-genetic heritable effects influence refractive development, using grandparental prenatal smoking as a candidate exposure. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we found that the prevalence of myopia at age 7 was lower if the paternal grandmother had smoked in pregnancy, an association primarily found among grandsons compared to granddaughters. There was a weaker, non-sex-specific, reduction in the prevalence of myopia at age 7 if the maternal grandmother had smoked in pregnancy. For children who became myopic later (between 7 and 15 years of age) there were no associations with either grandmother smoking. Differences between early and late-onset myopia were confirmed with DNA methylation patterns: there were very distinct and strong associations with methylation for early-onset but not later-onset myopia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15413 (2019)
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2019

Structured keywords

  • myopia
  • smoking


  • epidemiology
  • epigenetics


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