Introduction: Fetal changes in DNA methylation may underlie associations of maternal smoking during pregnancy with adverse outcomes in children. We examined critical periods and doses of maternal smoking during pregnancy in relation to newborn DNA methylation, and associations of paternal smoking with newborn DNA methylation. Aims and Methods: This study was embedded in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study from early pregnancy onwards. We assessed parental smoking during pregnancy using questionnaires. We analyzed associations of prenatal smoke exposure with newborn DNA methylation at 5915 known maternal smoking-related cytosine-phosphate-guanine sites (CpGs) in 1261 newborns using linear regression. Associations with false discovery rate-corrected p-values < .05 were taken forward. Results: Sustained maternal smoking was associated with newborn DNA methylation at 1391 CpGs, compared with never smoking. Neither quitting smoking early in pregnancy nor former smoking was associated with DNA methylation, compared with never smoking. Among sustained smokers, smoking ≥5, compared with <5, cigarettes/d was associated with DNA methylation at seven CpGs. Paternal smoking was not associated with DNA methylation, independent of maternal smoking status. Conclusions: Our results suggest that CpGs associated with sustained maternal smoking are not associated with maternal smoking earlier in pregnancy or with paternal smoking. Some of these CpGs show dose–response relationships with sustained maternal smoking. The third trimester may comprise a critical period for associations of smoking with newborn DNA methylation, or sustained smoking may reflect higher cumulative doses. Alternatively, maternal smoking limited to early pregnancy and paternal smoking may be associated with DNA methylation at specific other CpGs not studied here. Implications: Our results suggest that quitting maternal smoking before the third trimester of pregnancy, and possibly lowering smoking dose, may prevent differential DNA methylation in the newborns at CpGs associated with sustained smoking. If the relevance of DNA methylation for clinical outcomes is established, these results may help in counseling parents-to-be about quitting smoking.

dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa069, hdl.handle.net/1765/133814
Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Department of Pediatrics

Monasso, G.S., Jaddoe, V.W.V, de Jongste, J.C, Duijts, L, & Felix, J.F. (2020). Timing- and Dose-Specific Associations of Prenatal Smoke Exposure With Newborn DNA Methylation. Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 22(10), 1917–1922. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa069