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Smoking during pregnancy can lead to poor aerobic fitness in young men

Male infants whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are at high risk of long-term health problems, a new study warns. Babies who were exposed to second-hand smoke in the womb may have lower aerobic capacity in adulthood compared to those whose mothers did not smoke.

The study, published in the journal BJOG, shows that smoking and breathing second-hand smoke can significantly harm both mother and baby. The researchers said the findings add to existing evidence of “negative and long-standing impacts of maternal smoking.”

Previous studies have shown that mothers who smoke have a higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine growth retardation, premature birth and stillbirth. Their babies are also at risk for birth defects and neurological, psychological and behavioral difficulties.

Maternal smoking significantly increases the risk of asthma, lung infections, and ear infections and pneumonia in babies. In addition, they have a greater risk of infant death syndrome.

“Women should receive counseling and support to help them quit smoking during pregnancy, as well as advice on how to maintain a healthy weight to minimize the risk to their unborn child,” said Dr Maria Hagnäs, lead author of the University of Oulu study. , Finland, in a press release.

The finding of the link between maternal smoking and poor aerobic fitness in men comes from the analysis of the health of 508 young men, aged around 19, and 59 mothers who smoked more than one cigarette per day throughout the year. throughout their pregnancy.

The researchers measured the ability of male volunteers on a running test at the start of their military service assessment. The results show that in addition to maternal smoking, a higher maternal BMI before pregnancy and excessive weight gain during pregnancy also contributed to the decline in aerobic capacity in young men.

Previous research suggests that babies exposed to maternal smoking are more likely to be small, with a higher risk of obesity and insulin resistance later in life.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can do to improve the health, growth and development of her baby, and this study demonstrates the negative effect that smoking during pregnancy can also. have on the long term health of a child, ”said Dr. Geeta. Kumar, Chairman of the Patient Information Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the UK.

Researchers suggest that women who are unable to quit smoking should at least try to quit the habit during pregnancy by using nicotine replacement therapy. However, they noted that mothers should reduce smoking as much as possible to provide more benefits to their children.

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