Researchers find maternal smoking linked to asthma in the third generation

With some 300 million people around the world living with asthma, a study by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) researchers that was released ahead-of- print found for the first time that maternal smoking can cause the third generation of offspring to suffer from the chronic lung disease.

The study, published online by the American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, reported that maternal during pregnancy is linked to asthma in the third generation in disease models. This is known as a "transgenerational" linkage because the third generation was never directly exposed to nicotine or smoking. Previous research had found nicotine exposure was linked to asthma in the second generation, or was a "multigenerational" cause of asthma.

"Even though there are multiple causes for childhood asthma, research linking this serious chronic condition to maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy for up to three generations should give mothers-to-be even more reasons to reconsider smoking," said Virender K. Rehan, MD, an LA BioMed lead researcher and the corresponding author of the study. "Eliminating the use of tobacco during pregnancy could help halt the rise in and ensure healthier children for generations to come."

Worldwide, approximately 250 million women smoke daily, and the number of people living with asthma is expected to grow by about a third by 2025, reaching approximately 400 million. Twelve percent of women in the U.S. continue to smoke during pregnancy, resulting in the birth of at least 400,000 smoke-exposed infants per year in the U.S. alone.

In previous studies, the researchers have concluded that the cause of the second generation's asthma was epigenetic modification (an environmental factor causing a genetic change). Nicotine was affecting both the and the sex cells in ways that caused the lungs that developed from those cells to develop abnormally, causing asthma. The current study "paves the way for determining the epigenetic mechanisms" behind smoking and the transmission of asthma to future generations, the researchers concluded.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Smoking causes asthma in second generation offspring

Oct 30, 2012

The dangers of smoking on smokers and their children are widely known but new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine demonstrates that nicotine exposure also causes asthma in the smoker's grandc ...

Recommended for you

Uruguay begins registering marijuana growers

2 hours ago

Just a handful of people had registered by midday Wednesday to be private growers of marijuana in Uruguay, the first country to fully legalize the production, sale and distribution of the drug.

Tracking spending among the commercially insured

12 hours ago

Recent growth in health care spending for commercially insured individuals is due primarily to increases in prices for medical services, rather than increased use, according to a new study led by researchers at The Dartmouth ...

Taking aim at added sugars to improve Americans' health

16 hours ago

Now that health advocates' campaigns against trans-fats have largely succeeded in sidelining the use of the additive, they're taking aim at sugar for its potential contributions to Americans' health conditions. But scientists ...

User comments