Research: Smoking in pregnancy changes babies’ DNA

pregnant smoker

Here’s more alarming evidence about the risks of smoking during pregnancy – it can actually change a baby’s genes.

The largest study of its kind suggests exposure to tobacco smoke in utero can alter a child’s DNA and may lead to birth defects and health problems later in life.

The study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have experienced genetic changes than newborns of non-smokers. The research says children of smokers are more likely to suffer medical problems than those of non-smokers, and this continues into adulthood.

It says there are more than 7000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, and at least 69 are carcinogenic. It points to several studies that have linked smoking to changes to genes involved in the immune response and many types of cancer.

Researchers analysed blood samples from 889 newborns. Some 287 of those babies’ mothers smoked during their first trimester. They found a link between smoking and DNA methylation changes in 110 gene regions.

Previous studies have shown that children of pregnant smokers are more likely to have low birth weights and are more likely to be nicotine or drug addicts as adults than those not exposed to tobacco smoke before birth. The researchers say further studies are needed to determine whether these DNA alterations persist throughout life.

(via MedicalXpress)

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Send this to a friend