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Men who smoked before Conception increase risk of Asthma for the Baby

Update Date: Sep 08, 2014 04:06 PM EDT

Smoking has been linked to many health problems. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death within the United States. In a new study, researchers examined the health of children who are born to fathers that smoked prior to conception. They found that these children, in comparison to children whose fathers did not smoke before conception, have a greater risk of developing asthma.

In this study, which is the first one to examine the link between a man's smoking habits before fertilization and his children's asthma risk, researchers analyzed data on over 13,000 men and women. The data included how often the participants smoked before conception in terms of years, whether or not the parents stopped smoking prior to conception and what the incidence rate for asthma was in their children.

The team found that men who smoked prior to conception had children who were more likely to suffer from non-allergic asthma. The children's asthma risk was the greatest if the men started smoking before the age of 15. The risk also increased for each additional year that the men continued to smoke. Surprisingly, the researchers did not find a link between the mother's smoking habits prior to conception and risk of asthma in her children.

"This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father's smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children. Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect," Dr. Cecile Svanes, from the University of Bergen, Norway, commented according to the press release. "It is important for policymakers to focus on interventions targeting young men and warning them of the dangers of smoking and other exposures to their unborn children in the future."

The study's findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in Munich, Germany.

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