Background: Smoking during pregnancy is related to fetal constraint and accelerated postnatal growth. However, the pathways between these factors have not been clarified. Pathway analyses that link these factors can help us better understand the mechanisms involved in this association. Therefore, this study aimed to examine pathways between maternal smoking during pregnancy and growth in infancy.
Methods: Participants were singletons born between 1993 and 2006 in rural Japan. The outcome was the change in weight z-score between birth and 3 years of age. Pathways from maternal smoking and other maternal factors (such as maternal body mass index and work status) to growth in infancy via birth factors (such as birth weight and gestational age) and breastfeeding were examined using structural equation modeling.
Results: Complete data were available for 1524 children (775 boys and 749 girls). The model fit appeared adequate. Lower birth weight and non-exclusive breastfeeding mediated the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and rapid growth in infancy. Maternal smoking was also directly linked to rapid growth in infancy (standardized direct effects 0.06, P = 0.002). Taking all pathways into account, the standardized total effect of maternal smoking on growth in infancy was 0.11.
Conclusions: Maternal smoking during pregnancy may both indirectly, through birth weight and breastfeeding status, and directly influence growth during infancy; however, there may be other pathways that have not yet been identified.
2014 Wei Zheng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.