Modeling etiology of smoking during pregnancy in Swedish twins, full-, and half-siblings, reared together and apart

Hermine H. Maes, Michael C. Neale, Sara Larsson Lonn, Paul Lichtenstein, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist, Kenneth S. Kendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Using Swedish nationwide registry data, we investigated the contribution of genetic and environmental risk factors to the etiology of smoking status across stages of pregnancy with increasing degrees of social and psychological pressure to reduce or quit smoking, by twin and sibling modeling. Aims and Methods: Smoking status was available before, and during early and late pregnancy from the Medical Birth Register.Twin, full-, and half-sibling pairs, both reared together and apart, born between 1960 and 1990 were obtained from national twin and genealogical registers. Genetic structural equation modeling in OpenMx was applied to the population-based data to estimate shared genetic and/or environmental covariance across stages of pregnancy, accounting for maternal birth cohort and age at pregnancy. Results: Analyses of paired data on 258 749 individuals suggested that risk factors for smoking status changed across stages of pregnancy. Results predicted substantial heritability (60-70%) and moderate contributions of shared environmental factors (10-15%) for smoking status. Whilst the same shared environmental factors were amplified from before pregnancy to late pregnancy, new primarily unique environmental factors explained ~10% of the variance during early pregnancy which was carried forward to late pregnancy. Conclusions: Using registry data on women across pregnancy, we replicated that smoking status is highly heritable. Furthermore, we found support for increased impact of shared environmental factors during pregnancy of factors already present prior to pregnancy, and an independent set of mostly new unique environmental factors that may be triggered by increased social pressure to reduce or quit smoking during pregnancy. Implications: As new factors partially explain smoking status during pregnancy and the effects of familial factors increase across pregnancy, efforts to prevent or reduce smoking during pregnancy should receive continued attention, with a focus on both the individual and the family unit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1736-1743
Number of pages8
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling etiology of smoking during pregnancy in Swedish twins, full-, and half-siblings, reared together and apart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this