A recent study that will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Pediatrics has concluded that children who are exposed to tobacco smoking before birth are 3.6 times more likely to be born with severe asthma.
The study also found that children exposed to smoking while in the womb are three times more likely to develop asthma later in childhood, while visiting the emergency room four times more often than children who were not exposed.
Researchers examined 16 institutes and centers in the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico to determine the impact of smoking before birth, in the first two years and during the time of the child’s symptoms,
According to researcher Haig Tcheurekdjiad:
“The only outcome that had an impact on the severity of asthma was smoking during pregnancy”
“Even after controlling for all of the other co-factors, the children who had the most severe forms of asthma were more than three times more likely to have had a mother who smoked while she was pregnant.”
Researchers are still unclear as to why a baby’s lungs would be affected since they don’t actually inhale the smoke, however they speculate that it’s a genetic predisposition to lung inflammation, impaired lung development or negative effects of tobacco smoke, while the current study points to genetic changes before birth:
“There are environmental factors that leave their fingerprint on DNA and may have their expression several years out,” explained Burchard, a UCSF clinical professor of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and Medicine who studies asthma genetics.