Maternal tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy impairs fetal body size, including head circumference (HC) at birth; however, the mechanism still remains unclear. This analysis using a large prospective cohort study evaluated the impact of maternal tobacco exposure on their offspring’s HC and the relationship with placental weight ratio (PWR) and placental abnormalities. Parents-children pairs (n = 84,856) were included from the 104,065 records of the Japan Environmental and Children’s Study. Maternal perinatal clinical and social information by self-administered questionnaires, offspring’s body size, and placental information were collected. Data were analyzed with binominal logistic regression analysis and path analysis. Logistic regression showed significantly elevated adjusted odds ratio (aOR) (1.653, 95% CI 1.387–1.969) for the impact of maternal smoking during pregnancy on their offspring’s smaller HC at birth. Maternal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in the non-smoking group did not increase aOR for the smaller HC. Path analysis showed that maternal smoking during pregnancy decreased the offspring’s HC directly, but not indirectly via PWR or placental abnormalities. The quitting smoking during pregnancy group did not increase aOR for the smaller HC than the non-smoking group, suggesting that quitting smoking may reduce their offspring’s neurological impairment even after pregnancy.
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