News / Health

Study: Pregnant Women Who Smoke Predispose Great-Grandchildren to Asthma

Jessica Berman
According to a new study, women who smoke while pregnant not only increase the risk that their children and grandchildren will develop asthma, but also that their great-grandchildren will face a higher risk for the sometimes deadly lung ailment. The findings come at a time when the number of asthma cases worldwide is climbing.

Experts have known for some time that women who smoke during pregnancy increase their non-smoking offspring’s and grandchildren's risk of developing asthma.

That’s because nicotine appears to make changes to DNA, creating a biological legacy, according to Virender Rehan, a neonatologist and biomedical researcher at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California.

“And we speculate.. on how nicotine might be affecting lung development in subsequent generations,” said Rehan.

Now comes the latest finding by Rehan and colleagues, suggesting expectant mothers who smoke also may transmit asthma to their non-smoking great-grandchildren.

In a study of pregnant rats, investigators gave the rodents daily injections of nicotine for almost three weeks until they gave birth.

A second group of pregnant rats received placebos or injections of an inactive substance. All of the rat pups were allowed to breast feed as much as they wanted before being weaned.

The young rats from the original mothers were then bred for up to three generations. At no time were any of these rodents exposed to nicotine.

Scientists next conducted a series of tests similar to those given to humans to diagnose the lung ailment. Rehan says the offspring of all of the rats exposed to nicotine showed signs of asthma.

“This is very well established that this is seen in the pups of the generation which is directly affected by nicotine. But the key findings of this study that we’ve taken not only the directly exposed generation, but to [the] subsequent generation and then [to the] subsequent generation.”

Experts say some 300 million people around the world suffer from asthma, a condition sometimes requiring emergency medical care when the airways become inflamed and swell rapidly in reaction to triggers including dust, pollen or medications, causing a serious narrowing of the airways. The number of asthma sufferers is expected to climb to 400 million by 2025.

An article on smoking’s effect on the great-grandchildren of pregnant women is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid