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Children whose fathers were exposed to smoke in childhood are at greater risk of asthma

Children whose fathers were exposed to smoke in childhood are at greater risk of asthma
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The risk of non-allergic asthma in children increases by 59% if their fathers were exposed to secondhand smoke in childhood, compared to children whose fathers were not exposed, a recent study found. Photo by M. Dykstra/Shutterstock

Smoking near your child is unhealthy, but it can also harm your future grandchildren, a new study shows.

Children are more likely to have asthma if their fathers were exposed to secondhand smoke as a child, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

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The children’s risk of developing asthma was even higher if their fathers started smoking himself, according to the study published Wednesday in the European Respiratory Journal.

“We found that the risk of non-allergic asthma in children increases by 59% if their fathers were exposed to secondhand smoke in childhood, compared to children whose fathers were not exposed. The risk was even higher, at 72 %, if the fathers were exposed to secondhand smoke and started smoking themselves,” said study researcher Jiacheng Liu. Visit the American Lung Association to learn more about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

In the study, researchers used data from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS), one of the world’s largest and longest-running respiratory studies.

For this study, researchers included nearly 1,700 children who grew up in Tasmania, their fathers and their paternal grandparents.

The team compared data on whether the children had developed asthma by age 7 with data on whether the fathers grew up with parents who smoked when they were younger than 15. Researchers also included data on whether the fathers were smokers. became.

“We’re not sure how this damage is passed down from generation to generation, but we think it has to do with epigenetic changes,” added researcher Shyamali Dharmage. “This is where factors in our environment, such as tobacco smoke, interact with our genes to alter their expression. These changes can be inherited, but can be partially reversible for each generation.”

“It is possible that tobacco smoke causes epigenetic changes in the cells that start producing sperm when boys grow up,” Dharmage said in a press release. “These changes can then be passed on to their children.”

The team plans to investigate the issue further and see if that asthma risk continues into adult life. They will also investigate whether this passive smoking exposure in fathers increases the risk of allergies or other lung diseases in their children.

More information

Smokefree.gov offers tips to quit smoking.

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