Autism linked to Grandmother's smoking habits

by skyfogarty1265 on May 11, 2017 - 12:31pm

A study was performed on participants all born in the 90's. There were a total of 14,500 participants in the expirement done by The Univeristy of Bristol. The research found that if a girl's maternal grandmother had smoked during pregnancy, she was 67% more likely to display traits found in Autism like poor communication skills and repitive behavior. This disovery shows that if a female is exposed to cigarette smoke while still in the womb, it could affect the developg eggs. Since the expirement was carried out over many years on these specific children, other factors could be ruled out such as environmental and/or lifestyle. Professor Marcu Prembay stated " thered is DNA damage that is transmitted to the grandchildren or there is some adaptive response to the smoking that leaves the grandchild more vulnerable to ASD." Therefore, the affect of smoking is more powerful on the mother's child's offspring, then their own.

This is interesting because the results show the ability of a health concern to be passed down not only to offspring, but the next generation. This is relevant because while most people believe it to be wrong to smoke while being pregnant, some people still do it because it does not always have obvious effects on their children. From this study we can now know that it will make grandchildren more succeptable to having autism all to smoking. Alot of people would not think of this at the time because they do not have their grandchildren in mind at the time they are pregnant with the child of that future grandchild. Also interesing to me is, that with this new research, scientists were unable to conclude why it was differentiated between sexes. Perhaps it may be linked to the different growth patterns within male and female adolesence. Hopefully, research such as this will better recognise the effects of exposures during reproduction for multiple generations. This article can be found on

University of Bristol. "Diagnosed autism linked to maternal grandmother's smoking in pregnancy." ScienceDaily, 27 April 2017.


I find this research very interesting. the fact that they can find a correlation between the two is amazing scientifically. it is sad to see how people still smoke while pregnant. yeah it may not cause direct or immediate harm to your child but it causes complications down the road for the child. the child could get cancer and never smoked a day in their life and now their children could be mentally handicapped even though they did everything right during pregnancy. a mother can not even protect her own baby before birth because grandma was either unaware of the harm she was doing or just didn't care all together. I also think that now with todays social acceptance a grandmother wont admit to smoking while pregnant being afraid of ridicule.

This is fascinating research and another example of epigenetic influence on health of parents and their offspring. I just found an article entitled, “Cigarette Smoking and DNA methylation” (Lee & Pausova 2017). It links nicotine (as a carcinogen) and cancer. Also, our genetics class was just studying research whereby scientists ‘methylated’ the p16 gene, normally a tumor suppressor gene and made it a “methylation magnet.” This caused a higher incidence of spontaneous cancers in mice.

The carcinogens in cigarette smoke include: formaldehyde, chromium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and arsenic. These ingredients must cause DNA damage and could cause a myriad of epigenetic diseases like cancer and…autism.

Lee, Ken W. K., and Zdenka Pausova. “Cigarette Smoking and DNA Methylation.” Frontiers in Genetics 4 (2013): 132. PMC. Web. 12 May 2017.

It is amazing to find out all the harmful side affects that smoking has on the body, I never would of thought that it could play a factor in causing autism. Especially since you always hear people's concerns about vaccines causing autism when it could be something you encounter every day. I am also intrigued as to why it skips a generation and seems to only affect females.

"You can always choose your own actions, but you can never choose their consequences".

You know when they say, smoking contains a myriad of toxins, ranging in the several thousands, it is really startling to discover how these chemicals can affect up to two generations ahead. As of recently the number of worldwide smokers has diminished, but the most popular time to smoke has just past within the last 60-80 years. This could mean members of two generations could have been affected by smoking if was it was done during the maternal great grandmother's pregnancy. This could also suggest that smoking can indirectly manipulate a person's genetic code and that interference can be passed from mother to offspring. I wonder, does it show similar results for second hand smoke?

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