PITTSBURGH, June 30 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say children of non-smoking women exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy have genetic mutations that can affect their health permanently.
The study, published online in the Open Pediatric Medicine Journal, found the smoking-related abnormalities were indistinguishable from those found in newborns of mothers who were active smokers.
Study author Stephen G. Grant of the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health says the effects of the secondhand smoke may affect survival, birth weight and lifelong susceptibility to diseases like cancer.
Grant found the mutation was the same level and type in newborns of mothers who were active smokers and those of non-smoking mothers exposed to tobacco smoke.
“These findings back up our previous conclusion that passive, or secondary, smoke causes permanent genetic damage in newborns that is very similar to the damage caused by active smoking,” Grant says in a statement. “We were able to pick up a completely distinct yet equally important type of genetic mutation that is likely to persist throughout a child’s lifetime. Pregnant women should not only stop smoking, but be aware of their exposure to tobacco smoke from other family members, work and social situations.”
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