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A recent study found a link between autism and smoking. Researchers from the United Kingdom learned that grandmothers who smoked while bearing a child carried autistic traits to their granddaughters.
University of Bristol researchers studied nearly 15,000 participants in Children of the 90s, as per Science Daily. Participants whose maternal grandmother smoked during pregnancy had 53 percent chance of developing autistic traits.
The study also found that these children had a 67-percent chance of developing poor social communication skills and repetitive behaviors. Authors of the study believed that cigarette smoke triggered developing egg cells in a mother's womb, hence causing impairments that lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that could be passed even up to her second generation.
Smoking damages the DNA of mitochondria in every cell of a mother's egg. It may not cause mutations on the mother herself but the effect can be seen on her future children.
Earlier studies that linked ASD and pregnancy smoking were inconclusive. The new study published in Scientific Reports answered a gray area in this subject matter, but further questions emerged after the discovery.
Researchers aimed to broaden the findings in the future by finding out which molecular changes were responsible for the link. The researchers also found no explanation for the sex difference, but also noted that grandmaternal smoking affected the growing patterns of her grandkids.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strictly recommended mothers to quit smoking, especially during pregnancy. Aside from its link to ASD, it could also cause premature birth, birth defects, and even infant death.
The organization not only discouraged tobacco use but also the use of vaporizers such as e-cigarettes. CDC said while it contained fewer chemicals compared to commercial tobacco products, it still contained nicotine that could harm an unborn child.
Twelve to twenty percent of the pregnant women in the United States smoke, according to American Pregnancy Association. At least 1,000 babies die annually due to maternal smoking.