MANILA, Philippines—Women who smoke during pregnancy endanger the health not just of the child they are bearing but also that of their future great-grandchildren, an antismoking group said Tuesday.
HealthJustice said a recent study in the American Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology showed smoking during pregnancy “is linked to asthma up to the third generation.”
“This means that a woman’s smoking can afflict offspring far beyond her own children, going as far as her great-grandchildren,” it added.
The group noted that earlier studies have demonstrated how parental smoking has been linked to behavioral problems as well as to a decrease in cognitive function and self-control in children.
“Even though there are multiple causes for childhood asthma, research linking this serious chronic condition to maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy for up to three generations should give mothers-to-be even more reasons to reconsider smoking,” HealthJustice quoted doctor Virender K. Rehan, the author of the study, as saying.
“Eliminating the use of tobacco during pregnancy could help halt the rise in childhood asthma and ensure healthier children for generations to come,” it added.
Lawyer Diana Trivino, HealthJustice project manager, said Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma are among the leading causes of deaths in the Philippines.
“Studies have shown how the disease can affect productivity and impair one’s quality of life. People need to know that their smoking can seriously affect the health and welfare of their children and of their children’s children,” Trivino said.
“If information such as this were to be placed on cigarette packs, maybe fewer parents would continue to smoke,” she added.
HealthJustice noted that recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels and school and work absenteeism.
“The respiratory disease is a public health problem not just for high-income countries; it occurs in all countries regardless of the level of development. In fact, most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries such as the Philippines,” the group said.
It added that there were about 300 million people around the world who have asthma and this number was expected to grow to approximately 400 million by 2025 “if left unchecked.”
“We need to put a stop to who the tobacco industry hurts. This study shows that the harm goes far beyond the smoker. The tobacco industry is harming our future,” said Irene Reyes, HealthJustice managing director.
“For years the tobacco industry has kept these harms hidden from consumers. Let’s put a stop to that. Let’s compel them to put the appropriate graphic health warnings on cigarette packs,” she added.