There are countless disadvantages of smoking- graver for pregnant women. A new study has warned that women who smoke while pregnant, risk their placenta cells for DNA damage. The habit significantly impairs the functions of placenta also.
236 samples of placenta donated by women in the Otago Placenta Study (OPuS) after delivery, were analyzed by the researchers from the University of Otago. Out of these 236, 52 women smoked throughout their pregnancy, 34 gave up smoking before delivery or earlies, and the remaining 150 were non-smokers.
Lead author Dr Tania Slatter of the Department of Pathology said smoking in pregnancy has long been linked to lower birth weights and increased risk of serious complications, though the exact mechanisms are unknown.
Slatter, with her colleagues has found that there is an increased rate of double-strand DNA breaks in smokers’ placental cells. These breaks are responsible for severe form of DNA damage that can lead to cells becoming genetically unstable.
"Our study also showed a clear link between higher rates of double-strand breaks and lower birth weights and earlier delivery in mothers who smoked," Slatter said.
The results showed that the more cigarettes a woman smoked, the greater the DNA damage. Researchers also found evidence of impaired placental cell function through reduced expression of at least three proteins key to foetal nourishment and growth.
"Of course, it is vastly preferable to be a non-smoker during pregnancy, but this research highlights that it is still better to quit late than never," she said.
The study will be published in the journal Human Pathology.
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