UPMC logoThe dangers of secondhand smoking now seem to engulf infants of non-smoking expecting mothers. As a recent study led by the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health affirmed that newborns of non-smoking mothers exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy develop genetic mutations affecting long-term health. The study seconds a prior analysis which appeared to determine the evidence of abnormalities in the HPRT gene.

This HPRT gene is assumed to be found in the X chromosome in cord blood from newborns of non-smokers that are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. During this study the authors registered certain abnormalities that were similar to those identified in the newborns of actively smoking mothers. These abnormalities are ascertained to affect the survival, birth weight and lifelong susceptibility to diseases like cancer.

“These findings back up our previous conclusion that passive or secondary, smoke causes permanent genetic damage in newborns that is very similar to the damage caused by active smoking. By using a different assay, we were able to pick up a completely distinct yet equally important type of genetic mutation that is likely to persist throughout a child’s lifetime. Pregnant women should not only stop smoking, but be aware of their exposure to tobacco smoke from other family members, work and social situations,” remarked Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental and occupational health at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health and study author.

Smoke-induced mutation was seemingly identified in another gene known as glycophorin A, or GPA by the authors. They are revealed to represent oncogenes, the genes that may have the potential to modify normal cells into cancer cells and cause solid tumors. This GPA mutation was displayed in the same level and type in newborns of mothers who were either non-smokers or exposed to secondhand smoking. Also the mutations were reported to be identical in newborns of women who seemed to have quit smoking during pregnancy and failed to escape secondhand smoke.

The study is published online in The Open Pediatric Medicine Journal.