Grandmaternal smoking increases risk of asthma and low lung function in grandchildren

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Mother’s smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of asthma in her later grandchildren.

This is shown by research by GRIAC researchers Gilian Mahon, Gerard Koppelman and Judith Vonk among 37,000 people of the LifeLines cohort. This study makes it clear for the first time that smoking during pregnancy also increases the risk of having decreased lung function in male grandchildren. It is not known why this mainly occurs in boys. This may be explained hormonally. It may also be the case that the male fetus grows faster in the womb and is therefore more vulnerable to adverse conditions. Furthermore, the research shows that these effects occur if the grandmother smoked on the mother’s side during pregnancy. The paternal grandmother’s smoking during pregnancy had no noticeable effect. According to the researchers, this is probably due to the fact that eggs are already developing in the womb, while sperm cells do not develop until puberty. There is therefore no direct exposure in men. The researchers now also want to do trans-generational research into the consequences of indirect exposure. First animal studies on this phenomenon indicate that this exists; it would indicate that the negative effects of smoking over the generations may be much greater than previously thought.

The researchers published their findings in Thorax.