Paternal secondary smoke in pregnancy risks asthma in kids

June 21, 2019

Smoke exposure from a pregnant mother has been a causative risk for childhood asthma, and it is now evident that the same exposure from fathers may likely lead to early asthma development in their kids.

This comes from Taiwanese research of DNA methylation, where three genes along the DNA strand that influences gene activity, such as immunity and asthma, are saturated (methylated) with smoke exposure. Children who had the greatest methylation increases of these three genes at birth were twice likely to have asthma by six years old.Of the 756 babies studied over six years, one in four was exposed to paternal prenatal tobacco smoke – about 35% of children with heavy-smoking fathers developed asthma; 25% of children of fathers who were light smokers; and 23% of children with fathers who didn’t smoke at all during pregnancy.

Senior study author Dr. Kuender Yang of the National Defence Medical Center, Taipei, said asthma was notably more common in children with prenatal paternal tobacco smoke exposure corresponding to more than 20 cigarettes daily over less/no such exposure.

Moreover, the findings suggest that the risk of asthma from tobacco smoke is unlike allergic asthma, which is driven by allergies/allergic sensitisation from a specific antibody (total levels of said antibody was unaffected during the study).

Dr. Avni Joshi, from the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Minnesota, US, advises, “The study highlights that prenatal exposure to tobacco creates changes to the unborn child’s immune system, hence it is best to quit as a family decides to have children, even before conception.”


Category: Features, Health alert

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