Maternal smoking during pregnancy and academic achievement of offspring over time: A registry data-based cohort study

Document Type


Publication Date



Few studies have assessed the cumulative impact of maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) on scholastic outcomes over time. We examined the relations between MSDP and academic achievement in the 4th, 7th and 10th grades using registry data collected at birth, during the neonatal period, and at each grade level from the 2000, LIFECOURSE study birth cohort in Reykjavik, Iceland (N = 1151, girls = 49.3%). Latent growth modeling showed that MSDP influenced Icelandic achievement scores, standardized to a range from 0 to 60, at baseline (β = −0.04), and over time (β = −0.05). Likewise, MSDP was negatively associated with standardized mathematics scores at baseline (ß = −0.09) and continued to exert a negative impact on mathematics scores over time (ß = −0.08) after controlling for gender, income, cohabitation, and baseline mathematics and Icelandic achievement scores. Results provide evidence of the persistent negative impact of MSDP on academic achievement in offspring. Findings support the proposition that children whose mothers smoke during the first trimester of pregnancy are, on average, at greater risk for poor scholastic outcomes over time than children whose mothers do not smoke during their first trimester. To our knowledge, this is the first study using a longitudinal cohort design to assess whether the impacts of maternal smoking during pregnancy may persist over time. This study contributes to the current state of knowledge by providing an assessment that focuses on the impact of smoking during pregnancy on academic achievement from childhood into early adolescence.