Father's Smoking Preconception Influences Baby's Asthma Risk

A baby's asthma development is linked to parental smoking before their conception, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS)'s International Congress, held Sept. 6-10 in Munich, Germany.

A baby’s asthma development is linked to parental smoking before their conception, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS)’s International Congress, held Sept. 6-10 in Munich, Germany.

For their study, investigators at the University of Bergen in Norway examined RHINE III questionnaires, which assessed life-course smoking habits of 13499 participants, their year of birth and asthma and hay fever cases among 26945 offspring aged 2-51 years.

In addition, the researchers honed in on possible links between how long mothers and fathers smoked prior to conception, childhood asthma occurrences, and whether the parent stopped smoking preconception, an ERS statement mentioned.

“Compared to offspring with a never-smoking parent, non-allergic (but not allergic) asthma was significantly more common in those with a father who smoked only prior to conception (OR=1.58[1.15-2.17]),” the authors reported.

While there was no noteworthy association between maternal smoking and asthma (1.05[0.79-1.40]; interaction=0.032), paternal smoking and non-allergic asthma were found to have a relationship (OR=1.58[1.15-2.17]). Furthermore, a child’s risk increased if their father smoked before the age of 15 years (2.81 [1.02-7.76]) regardless if they abstained 5 years before conception.

The authors claimed their discovery “suggests a clinically important role of smoking on spermatogenesis with consequences for asthma development, with potentially large impact on public health policies.”

Reflecting on their findings, contributor Cecilie Svanes, from the University of Bergen, Norway, touted their research as “the first study looking at how a father’s smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children.”

“Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect,” Svanes commented. “It is important for policymakers to focus on interventions targeting young men and warning them of the dangers of smoking and other exposures to their unborn children in the future.”