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Pregnant and Still Smoking? How Vitamin C Could Help your Baby

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
vitamin C could help babies of women who smoke.

Women who must smoke when they are pregnant might consider taking vitamin C that researchers say could help stop infant problems with wheezing and other respiratory ailment after birth. What the researchers found though is just on way to help. Smoking while pregnant is linked to several problems for babies.

Kicking the habit may be just too difficult for some pregnant women, acknowledged by the authors, making the inexpensive option of taking the vitamin important.

Study co-author Eliot Spindel, MD, PhD, senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU explained in a press release that 50 percent of pregnant women smoke, which can impact child respiratory health.

The finding presented May 4, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC compared pregnant non-smoking and smoking women – 159 had been unsuccessful with smoking cessation. The women were less than 22 weeks pregnant.

Each group took a pre-natal vitamin in addition to either vitamin C or placebo.

The researchers tested pulmonary function 48 hours after birth to find out if vitamin C had an impact on the lungs.

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It is important to also note smoking during pregnancy is linked to:

The results showed infants born to smoking moms’ who took vitamin C had significantly better lung function compared to women who were given placebo.

Babies born to smoking women also had fewer episodes of wheezing and other respiratory ailments in the first year of life, compared to the placebo group.

The researchers also found one genetic variant that increases cancer risk, inability to quit smoking and relapses that also contributes to the harmful effects of maternal smoking during embryonic development. The study found vitamin C to be especially helpful for baby’s with the gene variation.

Spindle said getting women to stop smoking during pregnancy is still the priority. Vitamin C could provide an option for those who try but repeatedly fail or relapse.

Vitamin C appeared to help babies at highest risk for harm from mother’s smoking during pregnancy. All of the infant’s lung function was better compared to babies born to women who smoked but were not given supplements. The study only addresses one health risk from smoking while pregnant. Ask for help if you are pregnant and having trouble quitting tobacco.

American Academy of Pediatrics
May 4, 2013