09 September 2014

Smokers risk fathering asthmatic kids

Fathers who smoke before conception may increase their child's risk of developing asthma.


Men who smoke before becoming a parent may put their children at increased risk for asthma, a new study suggests.

Researchers analysed the smoking habits of more than 13,000 men and women, and then looked at the incidence of asthma in their children.

The results showed that asthma was much more common in children whose fathers were smokers before conception. A child's risk of asthma increased if the father smoked before age 15, and the risk grew the longer the father smoked.

Read: Animal fur may lower asthma risk

While the finding showed an association between a man's smoking history and asthma risk in his children, it did not prove cause-and-effect.

What about mom's smoking history?

There was no association between a mother being a smoker prior to conception and a child's risk of asthma, according to the study that was to be presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting in Munich, Germany.

Read: Asthma drugs may suppress child growth

"This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father's smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children," Dr. Cecile Svanes, of the University of Bergen in Norway, said in a European Lung Foundation news release.

"Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect. It is important for policymakers to focus on interventions targeting young men and warning them of the dangers of smoking and other exposures to their unborn children in the future," Svanes added.

Animal studies have suggested that a father's exposures before becoming a parent can harm his offspring, the researchers noted.

Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read more:

The asthmatic child and school
Do you recognise these asthma symptoms in your child?
How do you know if your child has asthma?

Image: Doctor helps little girl to do inhalation from Shutterstock

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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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