Smoking In Pregnancy Can Affect Fetal Growth Due To Genetic Changes

Smoking in pregnancy can affect fetal growth due to genetic changes. A study has found that tobacco causes methylation in placental DNA.

Alcohol use in pregnancy is the leading cause of intellectual disability in the West . 42% of pregnant women drink alcohol even though abstinence is safe .

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with changes in placental DNA methylation patterns , many of which are in turn related to poorer fetal growth, according to a study by ISGlobal and Emory University (United States).

In a statement this Thursday, the center promoted by the La Caixa Foundation has explained that the study, published in ‘ Nature Communications ‘, also relates the changes in methylation with a worse outcome of childbirth.

Environmental exposures, such as tobacco smoke, can induce epigenetic changes (chemical modifications in the genome that affect gene expression); one of these modifications is DNA methylation.

Given this evidence, the researchers crossed seven studies with a total of 1,700 mothers from Australia, France, Spain, Canada and the United States.

They identified 433 signs of methylation, of which nearly half were associated with preterm delivery or lower birth weight or height .

The research concluded that “the placenta responds to tobacco smoke in unique and specific ways ” in terms of DNA methylation.

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