It's a well-established fact that smoking cigarettes while pregnant is dangerous. A large-scale study of over 6,000 women and children, however, recently found that smoking while pregnant isn't just harmful to your baby's health, It can actually alter the developing fetus' DNA.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of several studies based on the link between smoking and DNA changes. "Many signals tied into developmental pathways," Bonnie Joubert, an epidemiologist at the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the study's lead author, told ABC.
Published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers found 6,073 instances of DNA methylation, or DNA modification, due to smoking. These modifications did not occur in the infants that were born to mothers who didn't smoke during pregnancy.
"These new results reveal that smoking during pregnancy leaves a lasting mark on the genome that persists into childhood," Christopher Gregg, assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah, told ABC. "It is well-established that pregnant women should not smoke, but these new results reveal that smoking during pregnancy leaves a lasting mark on the genome that persists into childhood, and identifies the sites and genes in the genome that are especially susceptible to these effects."