A would-be mother’s exposure to secondhand smoke during the prenatal phase may lead to major changes in lung function of the offspring. This change in structure and functionality would also continue to their adulthood, which may worse, be a risk for lung cancer.

A study was recently conducted by the researchers at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge on mice. The report revealed that exposure to SHS can cause abnormal changes, playing a major role in affecting an unborn child with lung diseases.

Giving a brief detail on SHS, experts said, “The smoke produced by any tobacco product including cigarettes, cigars or pipes, that people nearby can inhale is considered as SHS. Again, the exhaled smoke of a smoker is also secondhand smoke. Breathing it in is passive smoking, which is equally harmful during pregnancy.”

Researchers further carried out tests to confirm as to what extent of exposure could be dangerous for the offspring. Series of examination on the mice disclosed those who had been exposed to SHS before birth, experienced lung tissue damage and several altered genes.

Secondhand smokeThe study also found that lung development is different in male and female; where male has more risk to lung abnormality compared to the other gender.

During the lung functioning tests after reaching their adulthood, they found the tidal volume and minute volume to be significantly less in male mice than in females.

Tidal volume is the amount of air per breath all through normal breathing – inhaled and exhaled. Minute volume is the amount measured per minute, that too during normal breathing.

Further with lung tissue’s molecular analysis, several genes were impacted by SHS. Among the altered genes was alpha-1-antitrypsin which is common to humans.

Smoke – Stats talk!

Statistics state that, around 890,000 people of the total 7 million die of tobacco due to secondhand smoke. They are all non-smokers.

In the US alone, almost 2.5 million people (non-smokers) died by inhaling SHS, in the last 50 years.

According to Prof. Arthur Penn of Louisiana State University, “The study we have conducted strongly indicates persistent repercussions of SHS exposure alone, on respiratory system.”      

Besides this, the smoke can also cause serious issues like premature birth without full development, miscarriage, SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ADHD or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Hence, patients are expected to be careful.

However, since the study was conducted on mice, it’s quite difficult to induce its results directly on humans. But researchers who are still working on it, advise pregnant women to quit smoking or ask others not to smoke around. The sooner, the better.

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