Does Smoking During Pregnancy Affect the Fetal Immune System?
This study by Chahal et al. (Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2016) aimed to determine if maternal smoking can affect the child’s immune system, as altered immune function can have long term impact throughout life.
Observational cohort study using data from Upstate KIDS Study (collaboration between NICHD and New York State and University of Albany to track growth and development of children).
3,459 singletons and twins in the Upstate KIDS Study were surveyed. Newborn dried blood spots were used to measure levels of interleukin, IL-1 receptor antagonist, Il-6, IL-8, C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and immunoglobulins (IgE, IgA, IgM, and IgG subclasses). Generalized estimating equations were used to calculate mean differences in biomarker levels by timing of pregnancy smoking, amount of cigarette consumption, and exposure to secondhand smoke. 344 women reported smoking during pregnancy, and around 40% continued throughout their pregnancies. IL-8 levels were significantly increased in children born from smoking mothers. Children born to women who stopped smoking during their pregnancies did not have elevated levels of IL-8. This study reinforces the importance of helping pregnant women stop smoking even if late in pregnancy.
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