MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nis Brix M.D., PhD Student
Department of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology
Aarhus University Hospital
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Several studies have indicated a secular trend towards earlier puberty. This is a potential concern as early puberty has been linked to an increased risk of a number of diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. For this reason, our research team are interested in identifying potential modifiable causes of early puberty.
Smoking during pregnancy may be such a modifiable cause of early puberty in the children. Former studies have already linked smoking during pregnancy to earlier age at the daughters’ first menstrual period, a relatively late marker of pubertal development, but other markers of puberty are less studied, especially in the sons.
We studied 15,819 sons and daughters. The mothers gave detailed information on smoking during their pregnancies, and the children gave information on a number of pubertal milestones half-yearly from the age of 11 years. The milestones for the sons were age at voice break, first ejaculation of semen, pubic hair and testicular growth, armpit hair growth and onset of acne. For the daughters the milestones were age at their first menstrual period, pubic hair growth, breast development, armpit hair growth and onset of acne.
Our results suggested that the more cigarettes the mother smoked during her pregnancy the earlier her children, both sons and daughters, went through puberty. If the mother smoked more than ten cigarettes a day during pregnancy, the children appeared to go through puberty, on average, three to six months earlier than the children of non-smoking mothers. Continue reading