New studies have added more reasons for pregnant to stop smoking. In this study, the researchers found out that smoking while pregnant can alter the fetus’s DNA. These changes might explain how smoking during pregnancy can cause health complications such as low birth weight, asthma and cleft lips or palates.
Even though many medical researches shows that smoking while pregnancy can affect the fetus’s health, but 12% of pregnant in America are still smoking, according to the recent research published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. To examine the effect of smoking on fetus’s DNA, the researchers observed almost 7,000 newborns and their mothers all around the world. Using questionnaires and blood samples from the newborns’ umbilical cord, the researchers looked for the epigenetic changes of the newborn’s DNA. Epigenetic changes are alteration that does not change the sequence of DNA, but make certain genes to turn on or off.
The result showed that newborns from mothers who explain themselves as “sustained smokers” had an average 6,000 places where DNA differed from the DNA of newborns from nonsmoking mothers. The researchers also looked at the epigenetic changes of older children about the age of seven whose mother smoked during pregnancy, and many of the changes were still founded.
The researchers say that the epigenetic changes in the newborns are related to their previous research on asthma and cleft lips and palates. However, it is still unclear how smoking during pregnancy is related to the health complication of fetus, and further studies are needed to find out the how it works.