Grandmaternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with a higher asthma risk and lower lung function in male grandchildren, according to study results published in Thorax.

Limited research exists regarding the association between grandmaternal smoking during pregnancy and asthma risk and altered lung function in grandchildren. Therefore, researchers aimed to investigate this association in a 3-generation design by including 37,291 participants (25,747 adults and 11,544 children) from the Lifelines study, a prospective longitudinal 3 generation cohort study in The Netherlands.

Spirometry was available in 69.5% and 61.1% of the included adults and children, and logistic and linear regression were used to analyze the association between grandmaternal smoking during pregnancy and asthma, early childhood asthma (ie, onset before 6 years), and lung function level. Maternal and paternal grandmaternal smoking were studied separately and the analyses were stratified by adult/child and by gender. The analyses were then adjusted for gender, current smoking, birth variables, and socioeconomic status.


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In the adult population, maternal grandmaternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk for asthma (odds ratio [OR], 1.38; 95% CI, 1.38-1.79; P =.016), early childhood asthma (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.06-2.11; P =.023), and a lower proportion of forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC; beta-coefficient, -1.04; 95% CI, -1.91 to -0.16) percent predicted in men. These findings were not observed in a separate analysis of children that participated in this study. Of note, there was also no significant association between paternal grandmaternal smoking and asthma/lung function.

“Maternal grandmaternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with higher asthma risk and lower lung function in male grandchildren and a reverse effect in male grandchildren of subsequent generations,” the study authors concluded. “Our study highlights the deep-rooted effects of tobacco smoking across generations.”

Reference

Mahon GM, Koppelman GH, Vonk JM. Grandmaternal smoking, asthma and lung function in the offspring: the Lifelines cohort study. Thorax. Published February 4, 2021. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-215232