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Smoking ‘raises your child’s risk of developing leukemia’

Paternal smoking may cause adverse changes in sperm DNA structure that effect the development of the baby.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: February 10, 2012 4:52:09 pm

Parents-to-be,here’s another reason to kick the butt — smoking can raise your child’s risk of developing leukemia or blood cancer.

A team at Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found that heavy smoking by parents around the time of conception increases the risk of the child developing Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,the common form of childhood cancer.

“The first step towards the development of leukemia is thought to occur in uterus in a lot of cases. So we look at prenatal exposures as it has to be something to do with what’s happening before the baby’s born.

“Tobacco is a known carcinogen and,in terms of childhood leukemia,there’s a plausible biological pathway whereby paternal smoking could actually contribute to disease risk in the offspring,” lead author Dr Elizabeth Milne said.

In their study,the researchers probed the link between parental smoking and occurrence of developing Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in a number of offspring.

In a comprehensive exposure questionnaire distributed nationwide to 388 families with cases of ALL and 868 control families,they asked mothers and fathers to state where they lived,their occupation and how many fags they smoked for every year of their life,starting age 15.

Dr Milne said: “Using this information and knowing the year the child was born,we were then able to look at smoking levels around the time of conception.

“The results indicated that the risk of ALL,when compared with dad’s who did not smoke during the year of conception,increased by 35 per cent when fathers smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day around the time conception.”

The effect was only apparent amongst heavier smokers,with fathers who smoked less than 15 cigarettes,as well as former heavy smokers,not showing any increased risk,reveal the findings published in ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’.

Based on evidence from laboratory studies of sperm,the researchers believe that paternal smoking may cause adverse changes in sperm DNA structure that may then go on to effect the development of the baby,the ‘science network’ reported.

“Oxidative damage to the DNA is the main type of damage seen as a result of smoking in sperm. The key message is that this is something that fathers and potential fathers should be informed of,” Dr Milne said.

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