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Smoking During Pregnancy can Impair Lung Function in Grandchildren

Update Date: Oct 30, 2012 06:19 AM EDT
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Research has given multiple evidence as to why pregnant women shouldn't smoke. Here is yet another research finding which adds to the ill effects of smoking during pregnancy. 

According to research by scientists from Harbor-UCLA Medical  Center in California, smoking during pregnancy is not only harmful to the child, but the negative impacts are carried on to the next generation as well.

The research suggests that when a woman smokes during pregnancy, her children's children are also at risk of suffering from asthma.

Experts believe that smoking in pregnancy can "switch on" bad genes, which are then inherited by the future generation. Nicotine from the smoke during pregnancy affects the child's lungs and puts him/her at the risk of asthma.  While this risk factor was already known, researchers wanted to further investigate the risk involved for future generations through this study.

For the study, researchers tested the effects of nicotine on pregnant rats, their children (named F1) and their children (named F2).

The findings of the study revealed that the exposure to nicotine inside the womb reduced lung function in the first generation (F1), consistent with asthma.

Also, it reduced lung function of F1's offspring F2, in spite of F1 rats not being exposed to nicotine after their birth.

A gene function associated with normal lung development was also reduced in both generations of offspring, says a report published in the journal BMC Medicine.

"When we looked at the effect of nicotine on DNA in the testes or ovaries of the rats they found that nicotine increased the level of methylation in the testes but reduced it in the ovaries," lead author of the study, Dr Virender Rehan was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"Nicotine also altered methylation of histone proteins in a sex-dependent manner. These epigenetic marks may be the mechanism behind how nicotine-induced asthma is transmitted from one generation to the next," he added.

Rehan further added that while there are many factors that contribute to asthma, smoking during pregnancy is an avoidable risk for the disease affecting children.

"The effects of smoking during pregnancy are, it seems very long lasting. Stop smoking education and intervention aimed at mothers-to-be and women planning pregnancy needs to take into account the fact that nicotine itself contains dangers to their children and their children's children."

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