redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Pregnant women who have difficulty quitting smoking can take vitamin C to help improve the lung function of her child while also helping to prevent wheezing during the baby´s first year of life, according to a study presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) in Washington, DC.
Lead researcher Cynthia T. McEvoy, an associate professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and colleagues recruited 159 women who were less than 22 weeks pregnant and unable to kick their cigarette habit.
Each study participant was randomly assigned to take either one 500 milligram capsule of vitamin C or a placebo along with a prenatal vitamin each morning. Neither the women nor the study investigators knew what was in the capsule, and a second group of nonsmoking expectant mothers was also analyzed as part of the study.
Forty-eight hours after each baby was born, the researchers tested their pulmonary function. They looked at how each infant inhaled and exhaled, how easily each child´s lungs moved, and how large the babies´ lungs were. The results showed that the children of smoking mothers who had taken vitamin C had “significantly improved lung function at birth” when compared to those who took a placebo.
Furthermore, the study authors kept in contact with the patents throughout the first year of their children´s lives in order to record any occurrences of wheezing or other respiratory symptoms. They discovered that the infants of the vitamin C group had “significantly less wheezing” in their first year of life than those in the placebo group.
“Specifically, 21 percent of infants in the vitamin C group had at least one episode of wheezing compared to 40 percent of those in the placebo group and 27 percent of infants born to nonsmokers,” the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting, said in a statement. “In addition, 13 percent of infants whose mothers were randomized to vitamin C needed medication for their wheezing compared to 22 percent of infants in the placebo group and 10 percent in the nonsmoking group.”
McEvoy called Vitamin C “a simple, safe and inexpensive treatment that may decrease the impact of smoking during pregnancy on childhood respiratory health.” Likewise, study co-author and OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center senior scientist Eliot Spindel said that while the first priority was to get expecting mothers to stop smoking, their research has discovered “a way to potentially help the infants born of the roughly 50 percent of pregnant smokers who won’t or just can’t quit smoking no matter what is tried.”