Pregnancy, Smoking and the Surprising Origins of Asthma
One more post this week about respiratory disease, in this case asthma. A new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that smoking during pregnancy can have far-reaching effects on the child’s chance of getting asthma as a teenager – even if the mother stops smoking after the child is born:
An intriguing new study suggests African-American and Latino children with asthma whose moms smoke while pregnant are more likely to have severe asthma as teens, even if their moms stop smoking after they are born.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco looked at about 2,500 Latino and African-American children with asthma. After controlling for things like poverty and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke, they found children of women who smoked while pregnant were 50% more likely to have asthma that was harder to control when compared to children with asthma whose mothers didn’t smoke during pregnancy.
Once again, this is an observational study, and thus should be taken with the standard caveats – there were no controls, it’s hard to account for all demographics differences, and so on. One possible issue could be that the kind of mother who smokes during pregnancy may also be more likely to engage in risky activities that could have harmful effects.
Still, it is an intriguing glimpse into the long-range effects of smoking, and a sobering reminder that the habits we choose while a fetus is in utero may affect that child’s life for decades to come.