Standard anthropometric measurements were made on 320 term neonates to investigate the influence of smoking on fetal growth and nutrition. Maternal height and triceps skinfold thickness were also measured. Of 320 infants, 126 (39%) were born to mothers who smoked. Maternal triceps skinfold thickness was significantly smaller in smoking mothers. A correlation existed between maternal and infant triceps skinfold thickness. Measurements of infant growth, birthweight, occipito-frontal circumference, and crown-to-heel length were significantly smaller in infants of smoking mothers and remained significantly smaller when corrections were made for maternal triceps skinfold thickness, height, and social class. While these data do not exclude a nutritional mechanism for the effect of maternal smoking on the fetus, the major growth-retarding effects remain after corrections for this. This reduction in occipito-frontal circumference in infants of smoking mothers, and the possible significance of this is stressed.
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