Smoking during pregnancy is widely thought to damage the health of mothers and babies. Picture: AP

London - Women who smoke during pregnancy may damage their daughters’ chances of becoming mothers, a study warns.

Baby girls born to smokers showed signs of increased testosterone exposure, which may affect their hormone and reproductive function.

Smoking during pregnancy is widely thought to damage the health of mothers and babies, but cigarette smoke is believed to have properties that disrupt hormones and may increase testosterone levels.

Scientists at the Cigli State Training Hospital in Turkey examined 56 newborn girls and 64 newborn boys from mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

Physical markers the scientists found indicated "significantly increased" testosterone levels that correlated with the amount the mothers had smoked.

The findings were presented at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology in Vienna. Dr Deniz Ozalp Kizilay, who led the study, said that "excessive testosterone exposure ... poses a risk for short and long-term health problems, including metabolism and fertility."

He added: "The mechanisms behind the potential reproductive problems caused by exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb are not fully understood. More extensive and carefully-designed studies are required to explain this relationship."

The team plans to monitor the same group of baby girls to assess how it may affect their future health and fertility.

Daily Mail