Added by Monique Robinson on June 23, 2011
Women who smoke when pregnant increase the risk of their children suffering heart attack or stroke when they grow up, a new study shows.
The new research shows that children born to mothers who smoked when they were pregnant have lower levels of a particular kind of cholesterol that protects against heart disease than those whose mothers did not smoke.
As a result, Scandrett Professor of Cardiology, David Celermajer, at the University of Sydney estimates that these children face a 10 to 15 percent higher risk of developing coronary disease as adults.
“Our results suggest maternal smoking ‘imprints’ an unhealthy set of characteristics on children while they are developing in the womb, which may well predispose them to later heart attack and stroke,” Celemajer said.
The research, published in the online edition of the European Heart Journal, is the first to link smoking to the future risk of cardiovascular disease. It looked at the thickness of the arterial walls and the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol among more than 400 eight-year-old children.
Children with smoking mothers had HDL levels of about 1.3 millimoles per litre, compared to 1.5 millimoles in children born to non-smokers.
In the developed world, some 15 percent of women who fall pregnant continue to smoke.