“Vitamin C is a simple, safe and inexpensive treatment that may decrease the impact of smoking during pregnancy on childhood respiratory health,” lead author Dr Cynthia McEvoy, an associate professor of paediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Children’s Hospital, said in a news release.

The fairly small study included 159 women who were less than 22 weeks pregnant and unable to quit smoking. The participants were randomly assigned to take either one 500-milligram capsule of vitamin C or a placebo each day for the remainder of their pregnancy.

Two days after birth the babies born to women who took vitamin C had significantly better lung function than those whose mothers took the placebo. During their first year, wheezing was reported in 21 percent of infants whose mothers took vitamin C and in 40 percent of infants whose mothers took the placebo. The rate among infants born to non-smokers was 27 percent.

The researchers also found that 22 percent of infants in the placebo group needed medication for wheezing, compared with 13 percent of those in the vitamin C group and 10 percent of those in the non-smoking group.

“Getting women to quit smoking during pregnancy has to be priority one, but this finding provides a way to potentially help the infants born of the roughly 50 percent of pregnant smokers who won’t or can’t quit smoking no matter what is tried,” study co-author Dr Eliot Spindel, a senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, said in the news release.

Source: HealthDay News

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