According to a recent study, vitamin C may reduce the harm done to lungs in infants born to mothers who smoke during their pregnancy.
“Smoking during pregnancy reflects the highly addictive nature of nicotine that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations. Finding a way to help infants exposed to smoking and nicotine in utero recognizes the unique dangers posed by a highly advertised, addictive product and the lifetime effects on offspring who did not choose to be exposed,” said study author Dr. Cindy T. McEvoy.
In the study was published in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. McEvoy and her co-authors reported that at three months of age, the infants whose mothers took 500 mg of vitamin C in addition to their prenatal vitamin had significantly better forced expiratory flows (FEFs). Oxidative stress caused by cigarette smoking reduces the amount of ascorbic acid, a component of vitamin C, available to the body. At the time of enrollment in the study, women had lower levels of ascorbic acid. Levels of ascorbic acid improved in participants who received vitamin C in comparison to participants who took placebo.
Summing up the findings of the current study, Dr. McEvoy said that a relatively low dosage of vitamin C may present “a safe and inexpensive intervention that has the potential to help lung health of millions of infants worldwide.”
However, helping mothers quit smoking should remain the primary goal for health professionals and public health officials.