The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
A new study suggests boys who smoke in their early teens risk damaging the genes of their future children, increasing their chances of developing asthma, obesity, and low lung function.
Research published in Clinical Epigenetics is the first human study to reveal the biological mechanism behind the impact of fathers’ early teenage smoking on their children.
Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Bergen in Norway investigated the epigenetic profiles of 875 people aged 7 to 50 and the smoking behaviors of their fathers.
They found epigenetic changes at 19 sites mapped to 14 genes in the children of fathers who smoked before the age of 15. These changes in the way DNA is packaged in cells (methylation) regulate gene expression (switching them on and off) and are associated with asthma, obesity, and wheezing.
“Our studies in the large international RHINESSA, RHINE, and ECRHS studies have shown that the health of future generations depends on the actions and decisions made by young people today—long before they are parents—in particular for boys in early puberty and mothers/grandmothers both pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy,” says Professor Cecilie Svanes from the University of Bergen and Research Director of the RHINESSA study.