We all know that not smoking while pregnant is an obvious part of standard prenatal care. But the emphasis is usually on the mother—not the grandmother. Now, new research out of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) suggests that grandmas who smoked while pregnant have a higher chance of having grandchildren with asthma.
Even if the mothers themselves were non-smokers, the association was still there.
The findings stem from a study that specifically examined the link between grandmothers who smoked while pregnant with daughters between 1982 and 1986. For grandmas who’d smoked during pregnancy, their grandchildren were found to be 10 to 22 percent more likely to develop asthma.
“We found that smoking in previous generations can influence the risk of asthma in subsequent generations,” study author Dr. Caroline Lodge, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, said in a press release. “This may also be important in the transmission of other exposures and diseases.”
The study included nearly 45,000 grandmothers enrolled in the Swedish Registry.
According to the ERS, the number of people with asthma has been steadily climbing for the past half century. Researchers say that this latest study suggests that gene changes brought on by tobacco may be passed to future generations.
Since this research specifically zeroed in on females, they add that examining the link among males would be the next step. In other words, if a woman smokes while pregnant with a boy, will that boy’s future children be at an increased risk for asthma?