For pregnant smokers, vitamin C supplements improve lung function of newborn

May 18, 2014, The JAMA Network Journals

Supplemental vitamin C taken by pregnant smokers improved measures of lung function for newborns and decreased the incidence of wheezing for infants through 1 year, according to a study published by JAMA. The study is being released early online to coincide with its presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.

More than 50 percent of smokers who become pregnant continue to smoke, corresponding to 12 percent of all pregnancies. Smoking during pregnancy adversely affects lung development, with lifelong decreases in pulmonary (lung) function. At birth, born to smokers show decreased pulmonary function test (PFT) results, with respiratory changes leading to increased hospitalization for respiratory infections, and increased incidence of childhood asthma, according to background information on the article. In a study involving primates, C blocked some of the in-utero effects of nicotine on and pulmonary function in offspring.

Cindy T. McEvoy, M.D., M.C.R., of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and colleagues randomly assigned pregnant smokers to receive vitamin C (500 mg/d) (n = 89) or placebo (n = 90). One hundred fifty-nine newborns of pregnant smokers (76 vitamin C treated and 83 placebo treated) and 76 newborns (reference group) of pregnant nonsmokers were studied with newborn PFTs (performed within 72 hours of age)

The researchers found that newborns of women randomized to vitamin C, compared with those randomized to placebo, had improved measures of pulmonary function. Offspring of women randomized to vitamin C had significantly decreased wheezing through age 1 year (15/70 [21 percent] vs 31/77 [40 percent]. There were no significant differences in the 1-year PFT results between the vitamin C and placebo groups.

"Although smoking cessation is the foremost goal, most pregnant smokers continue to smoke, supporting the need for a pharmacologic intervention," the authors write. Other studies have demonstrated that reduced pulmonary function in offspring of smokers continues into childhood and up to age 21 years. "This emphasizes the important opportunity of in-utero intervention. Individuals who begin life with decreased PFT measures may be at increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

"Vitamin C supplementation in may be an inexpensive and simple approach (with continued smoking cessation counseling) to decrease some of the effects of smoking in pregnancy on newborn and ultimately infant respiratory morbidities, but further study is required," the researchers conclude.

"The findings from the study by McEvoy et al offer an approach for potentially minimizing the harmful effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on the respiratory health of infants," writes Graham L. Hall, Ph.D., of the University of Western Australia, West Perth, Australia, in an accompanying editorial.

"However, achieving smoking cessation should be the primary goal for women who smoke and who intend to or become pregnant. By preventing her developing fetus and newborn infant from becoming exposed to tobacco smoke, a pregnant woman can do more for the respiratory health and overall health of her child than any amount of vitamin C may be able to accomplish."

Explore further: Vitamin C improves pulmonary function in newborns of pregnant smoking women

More information: Paper: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.5217
Editorial: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.5218

Related Stories

Vitamin C improves pulmonary function in newborns of pregnant smoking women

May 22, 2012
Vitamin C supplementation in pregnant women who are unable to quit smoking significantly improves pulmonary function in their newborns, according to a new study.

Vitamin C may head off lung problems in babies born to pregnant smokers

May 4, 2013
Pregnant women are advised not to smoke during pregnancy because it can harm the baby's lungs and lead to wheezing and asthma, among other problems. If a woman absolutely can't kick the habit, taking vitamin C during pregnancy ...

Nicotine patches do not appear to help pregnant smokers to quit

March 11, 2014
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes and may have long lasting effects in offspring.

Financial incentives help economically-disadvantaged pregnant smokers quit and improve fetal growth

April 21, 2014
Smoking during pregnancy – particularly among economically-disadvantaged women – leads to a host of poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, preterm birth, SIDS, and additional adverse effects later in life. Without ...

Smoking during pregnancy may raise risk for heart defects in babies

May 3, 2014
Women who smoke during pregnancy may be putting their newborns at risk for congenital heart defects, and the more they smoke, the higher the risk, according to a study to be presented Saturday, May 3, at the Pediatric Academic ...

Vitamin D may protect against lung function impairment and decline in smokers

July 20, 2012
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse lung function and more rapid decline in lung function over time in smokers, suggesting that vitamin D may have a protective effect against the effects of smoking on lung function, ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.