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Smoking During Pregnancy Could Alter Children's Genes

Update Date: Jul 30, 2014 11:42 AM EDT
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Smoking during pregnancy could cause epigenetic changes in the fetus, causing birth defects and health problems later in life, a new study has found. 

According to the study, newborn children of mothers who smoked while pregnant are more likely to have experienced certain changes to their DNA than newborn children of non-smokers.

Children exposed to tobacco smoke in utero have a higher risk of birth defects and are more likely to suffer from some medical problems than the children of women who did not smoke while pregnant, the press release further added. 

The study also added that the difference between the children of smokers and the children of non-smokers continues into adulthood. 

Researchers are yet to explain what causes these problems, but earlier studies have suggested that exposure to toxins in tobacco smoke could cause changes to the DNA of the developing fetus. 

Researchers studied blood samples from 889 newborns of which 287 had mothers who reported smoking in the first trimester of pregnancy. The study found a link between maternal smoking and altered methylation in 110 gene regions.

The study has been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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