The study titled, Vitamin C Supplementation for Pregnant Smoking Women and Pulmonary Function in their Newborn Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial, was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In order to analyze whether vitamin C supplementation has an impact on the lung function of babies whose mothers smoked when pregnant, the researchers randomly assigned 251 pregnant women who smoked, to either receive vitamin C (125 women) or a placebo (126 women).

Infants whose smoking mothers took 500 mg of Vitamin C per day in addition to their prenatal vitamin, had significantly better lung function, when compared to infants whose smoking mothers did not.
The results indicated that at three months of age, infants whose smoking mothers took 500 mg of Vitamin C per day in addition to their prenatal vitamin, had significantly better lung function, when compared to infants whose smoking mothers did not.

Additionally, the researchers found an association between the infant’s lung function and a genetic variant that some of the mothers possessed, which increased the negative impact of nicotine on the babies before they were born. “Smoking during pregnancy reflects the highly addictive nature of nicotine that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations,” said lead author Cindy T. McEvoy, Professor from the Oregon Health and Science University in the US.

“Finding a way to help infants exposed to smoking and nicotine in uterus recognises the unique dangers posed by a highly advertised, addictive product and the lifetime effects on offspring who did not choose to be exposed,” she added.

Helping mothers quit smoking must remain the main focus

The researchers added that despite these results, helping mothers quit smoking should remain the primary goal for health professionals and public health officials. “Although vitamin C supplementation may protect to some extent the lungs of babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy, those children will still be at greater risk for obesity, behavioural disorders and other serious health issues.”

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