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Maternal smoking during pregnancy and fetal organ growth: a magnetic resonance imaging study


Devasuda Anblagan

Nia W. Jones

Carolyn Costigan

Alexander J.J. Parker

Kirsty Allcock

Rosanne Aleong

Lucy H. Coyne

Ruta Deshpande

Clinical Associate Professor & Reader in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery

George Bugg

Neil Roberts

Zdenka Pausova


Penny A. Gowland


Objective: To study whether maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy is associated with alterations in the growth of
fetal lungs, kidneys, liver, brain, and placenta.
Design: A case-control study, with operators performing the image analysis blinded.
Setting: Study performed on a research-dedicated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner (1.5 T) with participants
recruited from a large teaching hospital in the United Kingdom.
Participants: A total of 26 pregnant women (13 current smokers, 13 non smokers) were recruited; 18 women (10 current
smokers, 8 nonsmokers) returned for the second scan later in their pregnancy.
Methods: Each fetus was scanned with MRI at 22–27 weeks and 33–38 weeks gestational age (GA).
Main outcome measures: Images obtained with MRI were used to measure volumes of the fetal brain, kidneys, lungs, liver
and overall fetal size, as well as placental volumes.
Results: Exposed fetuses showed lower brain volumes, kidney volumes, and total fetal volumes, with this effect being
greater at visit 2 than at visit 1 for brain and kidney volumes, and greater at visit 1 than at visit 2 for total fetal volume.
Exposed fetuses also demonstrated lower lung volume and placental volume, and this effect was similar at both visits. No
difference was found between the exposed and nonexposed fetuses with regards to liver volume.
Conclusion: Magnetic resonance imaging has been used to show that maternal smoking is associated with reduced growth
of fetal brain, lung and kidney; this effect persists even when the volumes are corrected for maternal education, gestational
age, and fetal sex. As expected, the fetuses exposed to maternal smoking are smaller in size. Similarly, placental volumes are
smaller in smoking versus nonsmoking pregnant women.


Anblagan, D., Jones, N. W., Costigan, C., Parker, A. J., Allcock, K., Aleong, R., …Gowland, P. A. (2013). Maternal smoking during pregnancy and fetal organ growth: a magnetic resonance imaging study. PLoS ONE, 8(6), Article e67223.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 22, 2014
Publicly Available Date Apr 22, 2014
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 6
Article Number e67223
Public URL
Publisher URL


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