Maternal smoking during pregnancy and fractures in offspring: national register based sibling comparison study

Judith S Brand, Ayako Hiyoshi, Yang Cao, Deborah A Lawlor, Sven Cnattingius, Scott Montgomery

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

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To study the impact of maternal smoking during pregnancy on fractures in offspring during different developmental stages of life.

DESIGN: National register based birth cohort study with a sibling comparison design.

SETTING: Sweden.

PARTICIPANTS: 1 680 307 people born in Sweden between 1983 and 2000 to women who smoked (n=377 367, 22.5%) and did not smoke (n=1 302 940) in early pregnancy. Follow-up was until 31 December 2014.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Fractures by attained age up to 32 years.

RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 21.1 years, 377 970 fractures were observed (the overall incidence rate for fracture standardised by calendar year of birth was 11.8 per 1000 person years). The association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and risk of fracture in offspring differed by attained age. Maternal smoking was associated with a higher rate of fractures in offspring before 1 year of age in the entire cohort (birth year standardised fracture rates in those exposed and unexposed to maternal smoking were 1.59 and 1.28 per 1000 person years, respectively). After adjustment for potential confounders the hazard ratio for maternal smoking compared with no smoking was 1.27 (95% confidence interval 1.12 to 1.45). This association followed a dose dependent pattern (compared with no smoking, hazard ratios for 1-9 cigarettes/day and ≥10 cigarettes/day were 1.20 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.39) and 1.41 (1.18 to 1.69), respectively) and persisted in within-sibship comparisons although with wider confidence intervals (compared with no smoking, 1.58 (1.01 to 2.46)). Maternal smoking during pregnancy was also associated with an increased fracture incidence in offspring from age 5 to 32 years in whole cohort analyses, but these associations did not follow a dose dependent gradient. In within-sibship analyses, which controls for confounding by measured and unmeasured shared familial factors, corresponding point estimates were all close to null. Maternal smoking was not associated with risk of fracture in offspring between the ages of 1 and 5 years in any of the models.

CONCLUSION: Prenatal exposure to maternal smoking is associated with an increased rate of fracture during the first year of life but does not seem to have a long lasting biological influence on fractures later in childhood and up to early adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)l7057
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Correlation of Data
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women/psychology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects/epidemiology
  • Registries/statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment/methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking/adverse effects
  • Sweden/epidemiology


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