A large international study has revealed that smoking during pregnancy may change the DNA of the developing fetus to a smoker’s DNA.
Co-senior author Dr. Stephanie London at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) released a report that smoking during pregnancy affects fetal DNA to change into the DNA similar to an adult smoker.
Dr. London stated that the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 13 smaller studies, combining information from 6,685 newborns and their mothers.
The research teams identified 6,073 places in the DNA of children born after ‘sustained exposure’ to maternal smoking that had different modifications compared with babies born to non-smoking mothers. The DNA modifications were all due to so-called ‘DNA methylation’.
‘DNA methylation’ is a biochemical process in which DNA can be biochemically modified (by the addition of a methy group). This may provide the basis for the DNA to cause hyper and/or hypo reaction to biological senses system, catalyzed by substances and activities exposed in our daily lives including obesity, eating and exercising.
It was found that this collection of DNA methylation was found in locations related to lung and nervous system development, smoking-related cancers, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, and more. These gene modifications remained in the genes until the babies grew to an average age of seven years.
Dr. London also explained that the fetus is not breathing the many substances included in the cigarette smoke, but it passes through the placenta to the fetus.
It is strongly recommended that maternal smoking should not happen for the sake of the baby’s DNA.