Maternal Smoking and the Risk of Gallbladder Disease and Gallstones in Adult Offspring

Pavankumar Kamat


October 25, 2021


  • Exposure to maternal smoking was associated with a higher risk of incident gallbladder disease/gallstone events in the adult offspring.

  • This association was more pronounced in women and populations with low body mass index.

Why this matters

  • Findings underscore the importance of smoking cessation during pregnancy in preventing adulthood chronic diseases in offspring.

Study design

  • The study included 286,731 participants (age, 40-70 years), identified from the UK Biobank (2007-2010).

  • The association of maternal smoking with gallbladder disease in offspring during adulthood was evaluated.

  • Funding: National Key Research and Development Program and others.

Key results

  • During a median follow-up of 8.8 years (quartiles, 8.19-9.44), 7110 incident cases of gallbladder disease were reported, including 6800 (95.6%) cases of gallstones.

  • Maternal smoking was linked to an increased risk of incident total gallbladder disease (adjusted HR [aHR], 1.13; 95% CI, 1.06-1.21; P=.0002) and gallstones (aHR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.06-1.21; P=.0003) in offspring during adulthood.

  • The associations between maternal smoking and gallbladder disease (aHR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.21) and gallstones (aHR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.05-1.23; P=.002 for both) were more pronounced in women.

  • When stratified by BMI, maternal smoking was associated with a higher risk of gallbladder disease (Pinteraction=.02) and gallstones (Pinteraction=.01) in participants with BMI < 25 kg/m2.

  • Compared with those who neither smoked nor were exposed to maternal smoking, people who did not smoke but were exposed to maternal smoking had an increased risk of total gallbladder disease (aHR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.1-1.34) and gallstones (aHR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.1-1.35; P=.0001 for both).


  • Data on maternal smoking and other covariates were self-reported.


Li W, Liang J, Shao W, Xu C, Xu J, Jiang Z, Gu A. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is risk factor for gallbladder disease in offspring during adulthood: a prospective study from UK Biobank. Ann Hepatol. 2021 Oct 12 [Epub ahead of print]:100558. doi: 10.1016/j.aohep.2021.100558. PMID: 34653688  View abstract 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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