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HHS HealthBeat (July 24, 2012)

Mom’s smoke, Baby’s asthma

A pregnant woman holds a cigarette.
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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

Researchers say that, when a woman smokes during pregnancy, her child can bear the consequences many years later. Sam Oh of the University of California, San Francisco saw this in data on nearly 2,500 Latino and African-American young people. Children of smokers had a 50 percent increase in uncontrolled asthma.

“Smoking during pregnancy only happens during the nine months. But we found the effects were still measureable eight to 17 years after the exposure.”

Oh suspects chemicals from smoking change something in the baby’s genes in the womb. He says women who smoke should quit before they become pregnant.

The study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: July 24, 2012