60-Second Health

Vitamin C Helps Pregnant Smokers Have Healthier Babies

Children of smokers who popped vitamin C during pregnancy had better lung function than kids of other women who also smoked during pregnancy. Dina Fine Maron reports


Smoking during pregnancy poses numerous dangers. Nicotine and other toxins can harm a fetus’s lungs, cause other lasting health problems or trigger preterm birth. Yet some 11 percent of pregnant US women still smoke during the final trimester.
Now a study shows that vitamin C supplements can help alleviate at least some of that in utero harm.
Researchers randomly assigned 159 pregnant smokers to take either daily vitamin C pills or placebos. They found that, compared with kids of the placebo group, children of moms popping vitamin C were in better health—they wheezed less through their first year of life and had better overall pulmonary function.
And, at least so far, there have been no negative side effects from the pills for mom or child. The study is in the Journal of the American Medical Association. [Cindy T. McEvoy et al, Vitamin C Supplementation for Pregnant Smoking Women and Pulmonary Function in Their Newborn Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial]
The finding, if confirmed, would offer a cheap and simple preventative therapy in cases where a mom-to-be just can’t quit.
Of course, vitamin C will not eliminate the other long-term health risks linked to tobacco exposure in the womb. So quitting is still far better for the baby. And mom, too.
—Dina Fine Maron
[The above text is a transcript of  this podcast.]

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