The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that 6.8 million American children suffer from asthma, a statistic that has increased significantly over the last five decades. According to a new study that was revealed at the 2015 European Respiratory Society’s International Congress in Amsterdam, this could be linked to grandmothers who smoked during pregnancy. This recent study from Sweden initially began researching risk amongst the entire population, using evidence directly from grandmothers during their pregnancy.
The research team reviewed over 44,000 grandmothers within the Swedish Registry from the time periods of 1982 to 1986. Exposure to smoking was recorded, as well as asthma medication for over 66,000 grandchildren thereafter. Results revealed that those grandchildren with grandmothers that smoked during their pregnancy had a higher asthma risk of 10 to 22%; regardless if their own moms had not smoked while pregnant.
It seems that environmental exposures, like tobacco, can have a negative impact on the activity of genes via the “epigenetic modification” process. A link has been drawn to these changes for next and future generations when it comes to asthma and tobacco. Dr. Caroline Lodge, who was a study author for the project, notes that the team found that previous generations who smoked, hand an influence as it relates to the increased risk of asthma in the following generations. She also went on to add that in order to fully understand the current state of asthma, and increased cases over the years, the public needs to be aware of just how harmful exposures can affect future generations; and that when assessing the risk of asthma, researchers need to bear in mind that it may very well be inherited, and carried from previous generations.
Medical News Today reports that to date, the research has been on kids with grandmothers who smoked while pregnant with moms. Next, the research will focus on the other parent, and look at the effects of grandmothers who smoked while pregnant with a child’s father.