Previous studies have emphasized the adverse effects of smoking while pregnant on the health of children, but a new study goes further — by two generations.
A Swedish study discovered that a woman who smokes while she is pregnant may increase the risk of asthma on her grandchildren (i.e. the child of her child). This study is the first of its kind to investigate the effects of smoking two generations after. “We found that smoking in previous generations can influence the risk of asthma in subsequent generations,” said study co-author Dr. Caroline Lodge in a news release.
The researchers conducted a survey on close to 45,000 grandmothers whose names are listed in the Swedish Registry between 1982 and 1986. Meanwhile, the study also checked for use of asthma treatment and medication in more than 66,000 grandchildren. Results showed that kids had up to 22 percent higher risk of developing asthma if their grandmothers smoked during pregnancy. The data was applicable even though the children’s respective mothers did not engage in cigarette smoking.
The study proponents believe that smoking changes the genetic makeup of offspring, which may be carried over to subsequent generations.
The number of asthma cases has escalated quickly in the last 50 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affecting 6.8 million children in the U.S. alone.