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Smoking during pregnancy jeopardizes cholesterol levels of offspring

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals whose mothers smoked cigarettes while they were pregnant may benefit from cholesterol testing, as a new study has found that smoking during pregnancy decreases levels of a beneficial type of cholesterol known as HDL in children.

HDL is important because it has been shown to sweep the arteries of plaque buildups, carrying the potentially dangerous blockages to the liver where the material can be processed and eliminated from the body. Low levels of good cholesterol have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

For the study, researchers from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia adminstered cholesterol testing to more than 400 8-year-olds and surveyed their mothers about whether or not they used tobacco while pregnant. The results showed that the offspring of smokers had significantly lower levels of HDL.

The researchers said that the strong association between smoking during pregnancy and cardiovascular risk factors uncovered by their study underscores the need for women to quit using tobacco if they become pregnant. This could help ensure that their children are born with normal heart health.  

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