Child's Brain Cancer And Father's Smoking

    Aug-01-2009

If you are planning to have a baby, it is advisable that you take a look at the findings of a new research that suggests that even the aspiring fathers ought to give up smoking prior to the occurrence of the conception. In fact, women are very much aware of the perils of drinking alcohol and smoking during the pregnancy period and most of them usually quit both habits at least for the nine months - from conceiving the baby to childbirth. In contrast, men or more precisely aspiring fathers are generally of the view that whatever they intake has little or no bearing on their baby.

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According to Dr. Eric Bouffet, Director of the Brain Tumor Program and Neuro-oncologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the above mentioned views among men and women often make the mothers feel especially guilty when a child is diagnosed with a brain tumor. The mothers feel additionally blameworthy as they have borne the child and question themselves if anything they did may have been the reason for the tumor. Though the fathers appear to be less inclined towards such idle feeling of culpability, Dr. Bouffet is of the view that even men planning to have a baby or those who are fathers of small children need to think again about continuing with their smoking habits. Dr. Bouffet points out to the new research findings that advocate that it is essential for the couple to take a decision to both give up smoking during or even before the start of  pregnancy.

Fathers' smoking found to enhance perils of brain tumors

Findings of a latest research published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention demonstrated that fathers who smoked over 20 cigarettes daily are faced with enhanced hazards of having a baby with a Central Nervous System (CNS) tumor. Such babies are more likely to suffer from astrocytomas, the type of basic brain tumor found universally. In addition to this, it was found that smoking by a father also enhanced the hazards of ependymomas, an uncommon glioma found in the brain or the spine. It may be mentioned here that glioma is a type of cancer that starts in the brain or spine. It is called a glioma because it arises from glial cells.

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Although the researchers have emphasized that the findings of their study were not limited only to smoking during the pregnancy period, but that the end results hint that smoking by parents all through the year before the childbirth, including the pre-conception stage as well as the pregnancy is likely to have a function in infancy CNS tumors. This view was put forward by the principal author of the study Matthieu Plichart from Inserm, a public health research organization in France, and a former professor of the University of Paris-Sud. On the other hand, 'in harmony with the earlier studies on the subject', Matthieu Plichart said their research did not come across any relation between maternal smoking and development of tumors in infants.

In order to avail the relevant information, the researchers contacted the mothers over the telephone and enquired if they smoked, or drank tea, coffee, chocolate, cola or alcohol all through their pregnancy. Next, the researchers wanted to know from the mothers if the children's fathers smoked prior to and during the pregnancy. It is quite possible that when the mothers were interviewed by the researchers, the former could have played down their own smoking habits while over reporting the frequency of their partner's smoking habits, the responses to the researchers' queries were in sequence with the French data.

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How smoking may influence sperm

According to Dr. Bouffet, when men smoke tobacco it may stimulate the genetic substance that they possess and pass on as a part of the reproduction procedure. Putting in plain words, Dr. Bouffet said that smoking enhances the perils of transformation or change in production of sperms. In addition, when the expecting mothers inhale the side stream from the fathers' flaming cigarettes or become 'secondary smokers', the contaminants in the cigarette smoke are able to ultimately infiltrate into the placenta and have an effect on the still born baby's DNA.

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Smoking on the decline

Admitting that the risks involved with fathers smoking prior to the conception stage or during pregnancy are relatively trivial - about 10 to 1 or even 20 to 1, Dr. Bouffet says that still the message to the fathers is that if they continued to smoke during these periods, they are simply likely to enhance the perils of aberrations during spermatogenesis (the process by which spermatogonial stem cells divide and differentiate into sperms). Dr. Bouffet says that the world of childhood brain tumors is very complicated as both genetics and environment have significant functions in the development of the brain tumors among children. So far, scientists do not have the precise answer to their development, but they do have some answers - at least as far as the causes of the disorder is concerned.

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However, here is good news that will cheer up all people concerned. It has recently be found that though the Canadian men still continue to smoke more habitually compared to the women, the number of the smokers is now on the regression. According to the findings of the French research, while 21.9% of the mothers reported to be smoking during pregnancy, only half of the fathers indulged in smoking tobacco till a year prior to the childbirth.

Before wrapping up the discussion, Dr. Bouffet says that while the number of smokers in Canada continues to decline, what is significant is that this is definite to play a role in the decline of brain tumor incidents among children.

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