Children whose parents breathed in cigarette smoke are more likely to develop asthma – study | Smoking
According to a new study, children are much more likely to develop asthma if their father was exposed to tobacco smoke when he was growing up.
And they are at even greater risk of suffering from the common lung disease if their father was a smoker himself, according to the international team of researchers.
The findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, provide further evidence for the possible existence of a ‘transgenerational effect’ in which smoking can harm the health of people born two generations later.
“We found that the risk of non-allergic asthma in children increases by 59% if their fathers were exposed to second-hand smoke in childhood, compared to children whose fathers were not exposed.
“The risk was even higher, at 72%, if fathers were exposed to second-hand smoke and continued to smoke themselves,” said Jiacheng Liu of the University of Melbourne, one of the co-authors.
The study was undertaken by a team of Australian, British and Sri Lankan researchers.
Dr Dinh Bui, another co-author, said: “Our results show how the harm caused by smoking can impact not only smokers but also their children and grandchildren.”
Given their findings, men should try to avoid smoking whenever possible, to reduce the risk of affecting the health of their own sons or offspring, Bui added.
Jon Foster, Head of Health Policy at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “This research is truly shocking, showing that the negative effects of smoking can last for generations. The fact that children born today have a 59% increased risk of developing asthma if their father was exposed to passive smoking in childhood shows the enormous impact of smoking on the health of others.
The findings are based on the researchers’ analysis of detailed health data from 1,689 pairs of fathers and offspring collected as part of the long-running Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study in Australia.
The article states: “Our results suggest that when boys are passively exposed to tobacco smoke from their parents before the age of 15, their offspring have an increased risk of non-allergic childhood asthma, but not asthma. allergic.
“Paternal smoke exposure before age 15 is a major risk factor for nonallergic asthma.”
Professor Jonathan Grigg, chairman of the European Respiratory Society’s tobacco control committee, who was not involved in the study, said it added to the evidence for the intergenerational risk of smoking.
Children must be protected from further harm by ministers taking stronger action to tackle smoking, he said. He called for stop-smoking services to be increased and for adults to be routinely asked at any NHS appointment if they smoked, and offered help to quit smoking if they did.
Bui said smoking-triggered epigenetic changes — changes to genes in which a person’s DNA sequence is not changed — were the most likely reason for the significantly increased risk of asthma in children whose the father inhaled second-hand smoke in their youth.
“Epigenetic changes can be caused by environmental exposures such as smoking, and they can be passed on to future generations. Specifically, when a boy is exposed to tobacco smoke, it can cause epigenetic changes in his germ cells. These are the cells that go [on] to produce sperm.
“Later on, these changes will be inherited by his children, which in turn can adversely affect their health, including a higher risk of developing asthma. In boys, germ cells continue to develop until the puberty, and that’s a vulnerable period where exposure to tobacco smoke can affect cells and cause epigenetic changes,” Bui said.