Pregnant Smokers

In the newest study, the researchers measured force expiratory flows (FEFs) at 3 and 12 months of babies born to 252 mothers who smoked. FEF measures the speed with which air can be force out of the lung. The mothers who smoke were randomize to either receive 500 mg of supplemental vitamin C; so every day or a placebo in addition to the same prenatal vitamin.

They were encourage throughout their pregnancies to quit smoking. On average, the mothers in both arms of the study who could not quit smoke seven cigarettes a day. They perform FEFs in this study because they provide a more direct measurement of actual air way function; also are more predictive of future disease,” said, at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Sophisticate testing techniques

Because infants are not cooperative at 3 and 12 months of age; so they had to use sophisticate testing techniques to get these results; but they are similar to the results you would get when doing a spirometry test. The researchers measure FEFs at three intervals define by the percentage of air; so remaining in the lung during force exhalation: FEF75, FEF25-75 and FEF50.

At three months, there was a statistically significant difference in lung function; hence between the babies born to the two groups of women at the FEF25-75 and FEF50 intervals. At 12 months, there was a statistically significant difference in lung function; so between the two groups of babies at all three intervals.

The study did not find a significant difference between the two groups of babies in gestational age at delivery; also delivery mode, incidence of prematurity or birthweight. The researchers said that they are not certain why vitamin C has this protective effect; so on the lungs but are focusing on this question in continuing research.

Animal models of babies

Study co-investigator Eliot Spindel, MD, PhD, professor of neuroscience; so OHSU School of Medicine, speculates that it may “block the increase collagen deposition around the airways; so that has show in animal models of babies born after smoke/nicotine exposure during pregnancy; which likely makes the lungs and airways stiffer” and/or “prevent some of the epigenetic changes that contribute to the lifelong effects of in-utero tobacco exposure.

The study will follow the children until they are six years old; so to see if vitamin C has a long-term effect on improving childhood respiratory health. The researchers are particularly interest in determining whether children born; so to mothers who took vitamin C supplements are less likely to develop asthma; which is difficult to diagnose in the first year of life.

Despite the apparent benefits of vitamin C, Dr. McEvoy said, “getting women to quit smoking during pregnancy has to be priority one.” For those roughly 50% of pregnant smokers who will not, or cannot quit despite all efforts, quit smoking, vitamin C supplementation may be a simple and safe way to help their babies breathe better, she added.