Fathers who smoke could increase risk of asthma in children

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A Norwegian study has found that men who are smokers prior to conception could be placing their children at risk of developing asthma.

The research has shown that non-allergic asthma is more common in babies whose fathers smoked before conception.

This study is the first of its kind to look at this link in humans. It adds to the growing proof from animal studies which suggest the exposure of a father prior to parenthood can have a lasting effect on his children’s health.

The study included analysis of more than 13000 men and women. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that included the number of years fathers and mothers had smoked before conception, whether the parent had stopped smoking prior to conception and the incidence of asthma in their children.

There was no evident link between the smoking habits of the mother before conception and the asthma of the child, however it was more prevalent in those children where the father had been a smoker.

The risk of asthma was increased by the longer length of the father’s smoking and if he had commenced smoking prior to the age of 15, the risk was increased.

Dr Cecile Svanes from the University of Bergen in Norway said this was an important study as it is the first of its kind to look at how a father’s pre-conception smoking habit affects the respiratory health of his children.

She said that based on the results of the study, one can presume that exposure to any form of air pollution, from chemical exposure to occupational exposure, may have an effect.

She added that policymakers should place focus on interventions targeting young males and issue warnings to them of the dangers of smoking and other harmful exposures to their unborn children.

Image Credit: Marius Benta

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