PORTLAND, Ore. — Women who are unable to quit smoking during pregnancy can significantly improve the lung function of their newborns by taking Vitamin C daily, according to a new study at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital.
"Smoking during pregnancy is known to adversely affect the lung development of the developing baby, causing lifelong decreased lung function and an increased risk of asthma," said Cindy McEvoy, M.D., M.C.R., neonatologist and associate professor of pediatrics at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "We found that babies born to pregnant smoking women who took 500 milligrams of Vitamin C daily during their pregnancy had significantly improved pulmonary function tests measured at about 48 hours after delivery."
The results will be presented at the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference in San Francisco May 22.
In this pilot study, McEvoy and colleagues randomly assigned 159 pregnant women who were unable to quit smoking to either daily Vitamin C or a placebo starting before 22 weeks gestation through delivery. A group of nonsmoking pregnant women also was studied as a reference group.
The researchers measured the pulmonary function in all newborns at approximately 48 hours of age and found the newborns of smoking women who received Vitamin C supplementation had significantly improved lung function compared with the newborns of smoking women who received a placebo, as measured by standard newborn pulmonary function testing (TPTeF:TE and Crs).
In addition, the scientists found that one particular genetic variant that has been shown to increase the risk of smokers developing cancer and is associated with both a reduced ability to quit smoking and a high likelihood of relapse also seemed to intensify the harmful effects of maternal smoking on babies' lungs.
"Getting women to quit smoking during pregnancy has to be priority one, but this study provides a way to potentially help the infants born to the 50 percent of women who cannot quit smoking when pregnant," said McEvoy. "Vitamin C supplementation may block some of the in-utero effects of smoking on fetal lung development."
"Our findings are important because improved lung function tests at birth are associated with less wheezing and asthma in childhood," McEvoy said. "Vitamin C is a simple, safe, and inexpensive treatment that may decrease the impact of smoking during pregnancy on the respiratory health of children."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the Oregon Clinical Translational Research Institute.
ATS Abstract 25842: "Daily Vitamin C Improves Pulmonary Function In Newborns Of Pregnant Smoking Women: A Randomized Trial"
Type: Scientific Abstract
Category: 14.01 - Neonatal Lung Disease and BPD (PEDS)
Authors: C. McEvoy1, D. Schilling1, N. Clay1, M. Go1, P. Spitale1, C. Bunten2, M. Leiva3, J. Hollister-Smith1, M. Durand4, B. Frei5, A.S. Buist1, D. Peters1, C. Morris1, E. Spindel1; 1Oregon Health & Science University - Portland, OR/US, 2Vancouver Clinic - Vancouver, WA/US, 3Providence Portland Medical Center - Portland, OR/US, 4University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA/US, 5Oregon State University - Corvallis, OR/US
ABOUT OHSU DOERNBECHER CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital ranks among the top children's hospitals in the United States in eight clinical specialties.* It ranks 36th nationally for NIH-awarded pediatric research funding among children's hospitals affiliated with an academic medical center**, and is one of only 22 NIH-designated Child Health Research Centers in the country.
OHSU Doernbecher cares for tens of thousands of children each year from Oregon, southwest Washington and around the nation, resulting in more than 175,000 discharges, surgeries, transports and outpatient visits annually.
Nationally recognized OHSU Doernbecher physicians and nurses provide a full range of pediatric care in the most patient- and family-centered environment. These highly trained clinicians also travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, providing specialty care to more than 3,000 children at more than 150 outreach clinics in 15 locations. In addition, OHSU Doernbecher delivers neonatal and pediatric critical care consultation to community hospitals statewide through its state-of-the-art telemedicine network.
* U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals 2011-12
** National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions
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