Asthma is a real problem in the United States right now, reaching epidemic proportions among children. Tons of studies have been done to identify the root cause of the problem, with information coming out about kids who live in cities, the benefits of “dirty air” and bacteria on farms and many other ideas. A recent study has revealed startling information about how grandparents who smoke during pregnancy can affect the child’s risk of asthma in Atlanta and across the nation.
The new study was presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting held in Amsterdam this past October. The research team out of Sweden looked at well over 65,000 grandchildren and almost 45,000 grandmothers. It aimed to look at whether grandmothers’ smoking habits affected children’s risk of asthma, even if the mother did not smoke during pregnancy. The findings were surprising.
The results of the research revealed that grandchildren whose grandmothers smoked while pregnant with their own daughters, were up to 22% more likely to have asthma even if their mothers did not smoke during their own pregnancy.
To clarify, the link is not between grandmothers smoking around their pregnant daughters, but of passing down a propensity for the disease a generation later. A woman whose mother smoked during pregnancy, could many years later have a child of her own with an increased likelihood of the illness.
Correlation, Not Causation
The study, researchers stress, shows only a link right now, and a link is not evidence of cause. Further research needs to be done, but at this point it seems that there is something about smoking in earlier generations that has an effect on the risk for asthma in later generations. The findings could open the door to look for links between smoking and other illnesses and greatly increase and improve our understanding of the epidemic of asthma.
Still, it is important for future researchers to be aware of the fact that there could be other non-genetic and inherited factors that increase the risk of asthma. The more links that can be uncovered, the better able researchers will be to diagnose, understand and treat the illness in the future.
Daughters and Sons
The current round of research studies only grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Researchers say that the next logical step is to check for similar predispositions among those who smoke when carrying a son. Also, since this is just an initial finding, the research results are very preliminary with much more confirming work to be done before it can be properly vetted and published.
Risk of Asthma in Atlanta
If you have asthma or think you may have the genetic markers to pass the condition on to your child, you should have your kids checked out. At Atlanta ENT, we specialize in asthma medications, diagnosis and treatments. Read up some more about what asthma is and how it can be addressed, and call us today to set up an appointment.