Asthma's Smoking Gun

Prenatal smoking increases your child's chance of developing asthma

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The dangers to the unborn child from prenatal smoking exposure are even greater than originally thought.These children start their life with a great health disadvantage.

Children between the ages of 8 and 16 with severe asthma are 3.6 times more likely to have been exposed to prenatal tobacco smoking.

"Please stop smoking around children."

Co-senior author of the paper Haig Tcheurekdjian, M.D., a professor at Case Western Reserve University reports the only factor impactful on the severity of asthma in the child was the mother smoking during her pregnancy. After controlling for other possible influences, children with the most severe forms of asthma were more than three times as likely to have a mother who was a smoker.

University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Esteban Burchard, M.D., M.P.H., co-senior author of the study notes that environmental factors, including prenatal smoking, that leave their mark on DNA, can have the expression of the damage several years out.

In the instance of smoking during pregnancy, the damage made in the womb is having a significant impact when a child is 8 years old.

According to the U.S. Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, almost 14 percent of women in the United States smoking during their pregnancy.

Sam Oh, Ph.D., M.P.H., a postdoctoral scholar in epidemiology in the UCSF Center for Tobacco Research and Education and another of the lead authors in this study, reports a parallel study through the their center indicates that mothers who did not finish high school were among the group most likely to continue smoking during pregnancy.

This means those who are the least able to miss work are effected by the impacts of smoking during pregnancy. Oh suggests that public health campaigns should target those at greatest risk for smoking to further educate them.

The current study reexamined date from two of Dr. Burchard's previous studies called the Genetics of Asthma in Latino Americans (GALA) study, and the Study of African Americans: Asthma, Genes and Environments (SAGE).

These studies examined 295 children between the ages of 8 and 16 with asthma. Of these children, over nine percent of the mothers smoked while pregnant. Of the children with severe asthma, 11 percent had mothers who engaged in prenatal smoking. Six percent of the children with mild asthma had moms who smoked.

These findings will be published in the September 2011 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 23, 2011
Last Updated:
August 24, 2011