Vitamins and supplements that mothers take during pregnancy could predispose children (and even grandchildren) to asthma, reports NewScientist.
A study at Duke University Medical Center showed that mice fed vitamins similar to human pregnancy supplements had offspring with signs of asthma. The supplements turned down the expression of certain genes, and the lungs of offspring had high levels of immune cells and proteins that predict asthma; furthermore, this effect was passed down through generations in a process known as epigenetics.
Cigarette smoking causes the same epigenetic changes, and another study found that grandmothers who smoked while pregnant are more likely to asthmatic grandchildren.
“You are what you eat – or you are what your grandma eats,” says lead researcher John Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth says that the asthma risk associated with pregnancy vitamins needs to be studied more in humans. In the future, mothers-to-be may be advised to take fewer supplements during pregnancy.
See Children and Asthma to learn more.