Smoking during Pregnancy May Cause Asthma in Great-Grandchildren
Researchers in California reached stunning conclusions after injecting nicotine into pregnant rats.
There’s a new reason to avoid smoking during pregnancy—the nicotine in cigarettes may cause asthma not just in your children, but in your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harber-UCLA Medical Center reached this conclusion after running experiments on rats. They found that when pregnant rats were injected with nicotine on a daily basis—a proxy for humans smoking—both their grandchildren and their “great-grand rats” showed signs of asthma. Among the tell-tale symptoms: lungs that narrowed more easily when exposed to irritants.
It’s well-established that generations of rat pups exposed to nicotine in utero tend to be asthmatic, but “the key findings of this study that we’ve taken not only the directly exposed generation, but to [the] subsequent generation and then [to the] subsequent generation,” researcher Virender K. Rehan told Voice of America.
Rehan and his colleagues believe smoking may cause certain genes to be turned on and off, leading to “effect that reverberate through generations,” especially with respect to asthma, according to a statement released by the American Physiological Society.
According to government statistics, about 13 percent of women smoke during their last trimester of pregnancy. This despite documented risks such as premature birth, birth defects, problems with the placenta and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The new asthma findings likely won’t have much of an influence on pregnant women who have already resolved to stay away from smoke, though it may prompt some resigned sighs over the habits of prior generations.
“I’m pretty sure just about all of us had at least grandparents who smoked, if not parents,” said Kristin Weekley, an expectant mom in Massachusetts.
Weekley doesn’t smoke and makes a point of avoiding secondhand smoke as well.
“It’s not good for me,” she said, “or the baby.”
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