Australian researchers have found yet another health risk associated with children born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy.
The European Heart Journal released the findings of the study on Tuesday, revealing that unborn children of smoking mothers appear to possess less of the High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that actually protects against heart disease. This cholesterol is commonly known as “good” cholesterol and is known to help prevent atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty materials collect along artery walls. These materials can harden, forming calcium deposits that may eventually block arteries.
The study determined that by age eight, children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a level of HDL cholesterol about 1.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), compared to the normal level of 1.5 mmol/L. The research added that this disposition of lower HDL cholesterol levels could raise the risk of heart disease 10 to 15 percent among children in this risk category. The study suggested that the associated lower levels of HDL cholesterol could follow these children throughout their lives.
Smoking while pregnant has already been linked to a myriad of health issues among children, including sudden infant death, behavioral conditions and neurocognitive problems.
The study analyzed data from 405 children.