Children whose mothers smoked even in the early stages of pregnancy are nearly three times more likely to struggle with obesity later in life, according to a Japanese study.

The survey was done over a period of nearly two decades by a team led by Zentaro Yamagata, professor at Yamanashi University's School of Medicine. It covered 1,400 women in Japan who gave birth between April 1991 and March 1997.

The researchers then collected data on 1,000 of their children until they entered fourth grade at age nine or ten.

The study showed that the risk of obesity was 2.9 times higher among children whose mothers smoked when they were three months pregnant or at an even earlier stage, as compared with children of non-smoking mothers.

Yamagata said, "The results indicate smoking during pregnancy, even in the early stages, can affect the health of children over a long period of time."

ash

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