[font=times]childhood asthma may be linked to grandmother's smoking
[font=times]dangers of tobacco products transcend generations
[font=times](northbrook, il, april 11, 2005) - a child whose grandmother smoked while pregnant may have double the risk of developing childhood asthma, according to new research. [font='times new roman']a study published in the april issue of chest, the peer-reviewed journal of the american college of chest physicians, suggests that the harmful effects of tobacco products can be passed through the generations, even if the damage is not visibly apparent in the second generation.
[font=times]"this is the first study to show that, if a woman smokes while she is pregnant, both her children and grandchildren may be more likely to have asthma as a result," said the study's author, frank d. gilliland, md, phd, keck school of medicine of the university of southern california, los angeles, ca. "the findings suggest that smoking could have a long-term impact on a family's health that has never before been realized."[font='times new roman']
[font=times]researchers from the keck school of medicine analyzed data from telephone interviews with parents or guardians of 908 children. a total of 338 of the children had asthma within their first five years of life, and 570 served as a control group. the study showed that children with mothers who smoked while pregnant were 1.5 times more likely to develop asthma early in life, and those children with grandmothers who smoked, while pregnant, were 2.1 times more likely to develop asthma. further analysis revealed that even if a child's mother did not smoke while she was pregnant, but the child's grandmother did, the child was 1.8 times more likely to develop asthma. if both the mother and grandmother smoked while pregnant, a child was 2.6 times more likely to develop asthma.
[font=times]"a potential explanation for our unexpected results is that when a pregnant woman smokes, the tobacco affects her fetus's dna," said dr. gilliland. "we speculate that the damage that occurs affects the child's immune system and increases her susceptibility to asthma, which is then passed down to her children."
[font=times]researchers conjecture that when a pregnant woman smokes, biological damage is done to her fetus, and the chemicals from the tobacco can affect the child in two ways. first, if the child is female, her eggs can be affected, which puts her future children at risk. second, damage may be done to the fetus's mitochondria, which is then transmitted through the maternal line, as well. either effect can put a woman's children and grandchildren at an increased risk of asthma, by decreasing their immune function.
[font='times new roman'] "these findings[font=times] indicate that there is much more we need to know about the harmful effects of in utero exposure to tobacco products[font='times new roman']," said paul a. kvale, md, fccp, president of the american college of chest physicians. "they also demonstrate how important [font='times new roman']smoking cessation is for both [font=times][font='times new roman']the person smoking and their family members."
[font=times]chest is a peer-reviewed journal published by the accp. it is available online each month at [font=times]www.chestjournal.org
[font=times]. accp represents 16,000 members who provide clinical respiratory, sleep, critical care, and cardiothoracic patient care in the united states and throughout the world. the accp's mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, education, research, and communication. for more information about the accp, please visit the accp web site at [font=times]www.chestnet.org[font=times].[font='times new roman']