Vitamin C Helps Lungs of Babies Born to Smokers

pregnant smoker, cigarette, birth defect, smoking, motherSmoking is dangerous, especially for women who smoke during pregnancy as they impose numerous health and development risks on the unborn child. Nicotine and other toxins can harm the lungs of a fetus and cause lasting health problems, trigger preterm birth, or increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

However, a new study shows that some damage from smokers to their unborn babies can be mitigated if the mothers also take vitamin C during pregnancy.

“Supplemental vitamin C taken by pregnant smokers improved newborn pulmonary function test results and decreased wheezing through 1 year in the offspring,” wrote Dr. Cindy McEvoy of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and colleagues in the study published in Journal of the American Medical Association.  “Vitamin C in pregnant smokers may be an inexpensive and simple approach to decrease the effects of smoking in pregnancy on newborn pulmonary function and respiratory morbidities.”

The researchers randomly assigned 159 pregnant smokers to take either 500 mg per day of vitamin C or a placebo.

Fifteen of the 70 children born to women who had taken supplements were diagnosed with wheezing during their first year, compared with 31 of 77 children who were born to women who had not been receiving vitamin C supplements during pregnancy.

The authors also note that the children of  women taking the vitamin had a significant decrease of wheezing during their first year compared to those from mothers who did not.

The study was released in conjunction with the American Thoracic Society annual meeting this week.

At the ATS presentation,  McEvoy said that at least 12 percent of American women can’t or won’t quit smoking during pregnancy.

Nicotine and other substances in tobacco smoke can also be passed on to the child through breast milk, according to, and these substances have been to shown to negatively affect a baby’s health also.

Obviously, vitamin C is not a miracle cure for all the side effects that come with smoking: the best course of action is to stop altogether and avoid second-hand smoke.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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