Several studies link maternal smoking to asthma risk in children, but this new study suggests that even father's smoking habits prior to conception can elevate asthma risk in children.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Bergen. The team looked at smoking habits of more than 13,000 women and men. The researchers found that non-allergic asthma was common in children whose fathers smoked cigarettes before conception. The risk grew if the father started smoking before the age of 15 years and was a long-term smoker.

"This study is important as it is the first study looking at how a father's smoking habit pre-conception can affect the respiratory health of his children. Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect," said Cecile Svanes, from the University of Bergen, Norway

"It is important for policymakers to focus on interventions targeting young men and warning them of the dangers of smoking and other exposures to their unborn children in the future," Svanes said in a news release.

Previous research has shown that smoking during pregnancy can cause several complications and increase risk of the baby being born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate. Maternal smoking is also linked with premature birth.

Some 13 percent of women in the U.S. reported smoking during the last trimester of the pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The current study is one of the few research papers that discuss effects of paternal smoking habits on babies' health.

The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress.