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Vit C Improves Lung Function in Babies of Mom Smokers

Scientists have found a potential treatment that could reduce the impact of maternal smoking on their newborn babies’ respiratory health. Although doctors advise women smokers to avoid smoking during pregnancy, about 50% of women cannot quit the habit. This has been associated been with an increased risk of babies suffering from wheezing, asthma and other problems.

Lead author Cynthia T. McEvoy, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and colleagues report at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC that they have found that vitamin C intake during pregnancy could improve their babies’ respiratory health. To test their hypothesis, they assigned 159 pregnant women to take either vitamin C or placebo with a prenatal vitamin supplement. All of them were unable to quit smoking and were less than 22 weeks into their pregnancy. The study also included a group of pregnant women who were nonsmokers.

Forty-eight hours after birth, the newborn babies underwent pulmonary function tests and found that those who were born to smoking moms who took vitamin C had significantly improved lung function compared to newborns whose moms took a placebo.

The investigators contacted the parents during the infants’ first year of life to and found that babies of mothers who took vitamin C group (21%) experienced significantly less wheezing than the those whose mothers received placebo (40%).  Among the babies of nonsmoking moms, 27%  had wheeing in the first year of life. Furthermore, fewer babies in the vitamin C group (13%) needed medication for their wheezing compared to babies in the placebo group (22%) and the nonsmoking group (10%).

Dr. McEvoy states that their preliminary findings suggest that vitamin C may help babies who are at greatest risk of harm from their mothers’ smoking in pregnancy.


American Academy of Pediatrics. Vitamin C may head off lung problems in babies born to pregnant smokers. ScienceDaily.

Posted in: Babies' Health, Cigarette Smoking, News Briefs, Vitamin C, Vitamins and Minerals

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