Pregnancy, Smoking and Vitamin C ?

by Dr. Kadish

When we discuss the combination of pregnancy, smoking and vitamin C there appears to be a contradiction. Clearly a separation of the pregnancy and smoking would be ideal however……if your addiction is such that your unable to quite, taking some vitamin C will help your baby to breath better, for at least a year after their birth. For pregnant smokers, vitamin C supplements improves the lung function of newborns.

This report is just another example of the easy and inexpensive changes one can make in their health with natural medicine. Keep in mind that they were only using a very small single dose, of 500mg…..wonder what would be the optimal dose….for most adults we recommend using at least 500mg three or more times per day, with food. This dose would give you a much better overall response in your tissues. Keep in mind that Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient and it does not last for more than 4-6 hours at meaningful concentrations, so multiple doses would be much more appropriate.  

Interestingly there is no mention of the decreased damage done to the mom….sounds like they should consider packaging this simple and non-toxic supplement with all smoking products……(kidding but not 100%)

May 19, 2014
The JAMA Network Journals

Supplemental vitamin C taken by pregnant smokers improved measures of lung function for newborns and decreased the incidence of wheezing for infants through 1 year, according to a study published by JAMA. The study is being released early online to coincide with its presentation at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.

More than 50 percent of smokers who become pregnant continue to smoke, corresponding to 12 percent of all pregnancies. Smoking during pregnancy adversely affects lung development, with lifelong decreases in pulmonary (lung) function. At birth, newborn infants born to smokers show decreased pulmonary function test (PFT) results, with respiratory changes leading to increased hospitalization for respiratory infections, and increased incidence of childhood asthma, according to background information on the article. In a study involving primates, vitamin C blocked some of the in-utero effects of nicotine on lung development and pulmonary function in offspring.

Cindy T. McEvoy, M.D., M.C.R., of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and colleagues randomly assigned pregnant smokers to receive vitamin C (500 mg/d) (n = 89) or placebo (n = 90). One hundred fifty-nine newborns of pregnant smokers (76 vitamin C treated and 83 placebo treated) and 76 newborns (reference group) of pregnant nonsmokers were studied with newborn PFTs (performed within 72 hours of age)

The researchers found that newborns of women randomized to vitamin C, compared with those randomized to placebo, had improved measures of pulmonary function. Offspring of women randomized to vitamin C had significantly decreased wheezing through age 1 year (15/70 [21 percent] vs 31/77 [40 percent]. There were no significant differences in the 1-year PFT results between the vitamin C and placebo groups.

“Although smoking cessation is the foremost goal, most pregnant smokers continue to smoke, supporting the need for a pharmacologic intervention,” the authors write. Other studies have demonstrated that reduced pulmonary function in offspring of smokers continues into childhood and up to age 21 years. “This emphasizes the important opportunity of in-utero intervention. Individuals who begin life with decreased PFT measures may be at increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

“Vitamin C supplementation in pregnant smokers may be an inexpensive and simple approach (with continued smoking cessation counseling) to decrease some of the effects of smoking in pregnancy on newborn pulmonary function and ultimately infant respiratory morbidities, but further study is required,” the researchers conclude.


Copyright Center of Health™ 4/2014  For permission to reprint this article, please contact the author.

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Dr. Kadish is an unusual physician often referred to as a "doctor detective". His expertise is the evaluation and treatment of complex disorders, typically after other physicians have been stumped, is renowned. He provides care for all family members and has additional training in autistic spectrum disorders and chronic complex diseases.