A study conducted in Spain has focused on the increasing incidence of chromosomal abnormalities in fetal cells, which might be associated with an increased risk of cancer in the offspring of smoking mothers.
Smoking during pregnancy has been proven to have disastrous effects on the fetus like bleeding problems during the neonatal period, and obstetric complications such as extra uterine pregnancy, or pregnancy resulting from gestation elsewhere than in the uterus. We have only indirect data to prove that smoking also damages the genetic material- DNA and this is known as genotoxic insult.
The amniotic cells which are cells shed by the fetus in to the amniotic fluid were analyzed for the presence of chromosomal abnormalities in relation to what regions of the chromosome were specifically affected due to tobacco. Cells in the amniotic fluid were obtained by routine amniocentesis in 25 controls and 25 women who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day for 10 or more years. The women were asked to fill out a smoking questionnaire about their habits.
It was found that the proportion of structural abnormalities in smokers was about 12 percent, while it was only 4 percent in non-smokers. They also found a certain chromosomal region was most affected by tobacco, which is a region that has been implicated in cancers related to the formation of blood or blood cells.
To conclude, the increase in chromosomal abnormalities resulting from the genotoxic effect of tobacco could be indicative of an increased cancer risk, especially childhood cancers.