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Prenatal smoking tied to worse asthma in kids

NEW YORK--Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy may have a tougher time controlling their asthma than other kids do, a new study suggests.

The findings, from a study of nearly 2,500 U.S. kids, add to evidence that prenatal smoking may affect children's future lung health.

There are already plenty of reasons for women to quit smoking during, and ideally before, pregnancy, said lead researcher Sam Oh, of the University of California San Francisco.

This study offers more motivation for women, and for doctors to ask moms and expectant moms about smoking, Oh said in an interview.

“Pregnancy is a great opportunity for smoking cessation,” he said.

Smoking during pregnancy is linked to increased risks of miscarriage, low birth weight, certain birth defects and other pregnancy complications.

As for asthma, many studies have found that secondhand smoke may worsen children's asthma symptoms, or possibly raise their risk of developing the lung disease in the first place. The same risks have been linked to moms' prenatal smoking.

But, Oh's team says, it has not been clear how much of an impact prenatal smoking might have on kids' asthma symptoms later in life, independent of any current exposure to secondhand smoke.

Higher Risk Among Poor Minorities

For their study, the researchers focused on 2,481 black and Hispanic kids between the ages of 8 and 17 who all had asthma and were mostly from low-income families.

In the U.S., poor, minority children are at particular risk of asthma. About 16 percent of low-income black children have asthma, versus the national prevalence of 9 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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