Mom's Smoking May Up Kids' Later COPD Risk
Risk was almost tripled when mothers smoked heavily, but study didn't prove cause and effect
By Alan Mozes
THURSDAY, March 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The children of mothers who smoke heavily may face a much higher risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as adults, new research suggests.
The finding is based on the tracking of COPD risk among nearly 1,400 adults, and it suggests that heavy maternal smoking -- more than 20 cigarettes per day -- increases a child's long-term COPD risk nearly threefold.
"The findings were not surprising to us," said study author Jennifer Perret. She is a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre for Air Quality and Evaluation in the Melbourne School of Population & Global Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
"Smoking in later life can result in deficits in lung function by middle age. So it was not unexpected to see that mothers' smoking . . . could also adversely influence the growing lungs of [their children]," Perret said. And, "reduced lung function potential in childhood predisposes an individual to having reduced lung function as an adult," she added.
However, the study did not prove that a mother's heavy smoking habit caused her children to have an increased risk for COPD later in life; the researchers only found an association.
Perret and her colleagues reported their findings in the March 10 issue of the journal Respirology.
According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, COPD is a progressively worsening illness that greatly compromises a person's ability to breathe. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, which is now the third leading cause of death around the world, the researchers said.
To see how COPD risk related to parental smoking patterns, the authors reviewed surveys completed in 2004 by more than 5,700 men and women (average age of 45) who had been participating in a long-running study that began in 1968.
Nearly 40 percent said that when they were 7 years old they lived with a mother who smoked, and 17 percent of this group said their mothers were heavy smokers. Nearly 60 percent grew up with smoking fathers, 34 percent of whom were heavy smokers.