Smoking during pregancy increases the risk of a baby developing asthma up to sixfold, said a Swedish study published at the European Respiratory Society's annual congress on Monday.
The study by Professeur Anders Bjerg of the Sunderby central hospital in Norrbotten and his specialists showed that smoking leads to babies being born underweight, a fact that has an impact on the development of asthma.
The Swedish doctors studied asthma in about 3,400 children between 1996 and 2008.
The study found that babies of smoking mothers had an average weight of 211 grammes (7.44 ounces) less than those of mothers who do not smoke.
Nearly a quarter (24.3 percent) of smoking mothers' babies weighed less than 2.5 kilogrammes at birth against 4.1 percent for those of non-smoking women.
In underweight children of women who smoked throughout their pregnancy the asthma risk was at 23.5 percent, against 7.7 percent in children of non-smoking mothers who were born with an average weight.
(c) 2009 AFP