Smoking during pregnancy increases odds of an asthmatic baby

Children are very susceptible to the external environment during development since their bodies are constantly changing. One prevalent condition diagnosed in kids is asthma, which is characterized by wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Over the last few years, the number of affected patients has significantly increased. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 25 million individuals, or 8 percent of the population, had asthma in 2009. This is 5 million more than in 2001.

Protect your baby by not smoking

Researchers from Sweden looked into the correlation between maternal smoking during pregnancy and clinical asthma in preschool children. They observed birth cohorts that included approximately 21,000 children, some of whom were born to smoking moms.

According to the study's results, which were published in the American Journal for Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the children whose moms smoked during pregnancy were more likely to develop the respiratory condition, as compared to those who had moms who were cigarette-free. This indicates that such an addiction not only poses health risks for an expectant mom, but also for her baby.

The scientists behind the study surveyed the moms to see if a variety of factors, besides maternal smoking, could be linked to asthma in their children, such as gender, parental education, birth weight and whether mom or dad had the condition themselves. They found that mom smoking during the first trimester was associated with the most increased risk for asthma and wheezing.

"These results indicate that the harmful effects of maternal smoking on the fetal respiratory system begin early in pregnancy, perhaps before the women is even aware that she is pregnant," said Asa Neuman, M.D., the lead author of the study.

Pediatricians can help guide asthma management

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), there is no cure for asthma. However, affected individuals can manage their symptoms with prescribed medications, such as rescue inhalers, bronchodilators and oral drugs.

What do you think of the growing rate of asthma in the U.S.? Do you think that it's preventable? What are some helpful techniques you know of to help smoking moms quit before pregnancy? Leave your answers in the comments section!