Passive smoking in pregnancy linked to asthma risk in children

MedWire News: Children born to women exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) during pregnancy face an increased risk for asthma symptoms in early life, researchers warn.

“Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to be a considerable risk factor for changes in growth and maturation of the fetal lungs and the later development of wheeze and asthma,” explain Paraskevi Xepapadaki (University of Athens, Greece) and team in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

But they add it is not known whether passive smoking in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for asthma and allergies in offspring.

To investigate, the researchers studied data on 2374 preschool children, aged between 1 and 6 years, from 115 nurseries in five counties of Greece.

The children’s parents completed questionnaires detailing demographic characteristics, current and past smoking habits, and pre- and postnatal exposure of mothers and children to ETS.

They were also asked about their children’s history of wheeze and whether they had been diagnosed with asthma. Furthermore, any history of adverse reactions to foods and diagnoses of food allergies among the children was ascertained.

Analysis revealed that children born to mothers who actively smoked during pregnancy were 1.47 times more likely to have a history of wheezing, 1.66 times more likely to have doctor-diagnosed asthma, 1.38 times more likely to have suffered a pruritic rash in the last 12 months, and 1.16 times more likely to have doctor diagnosed atopic dermatitis than those born to a mother who did not smoke during pregnancy.

Children born to non-smoking mothers who were regularly exposed to ETS during the third trimester of pregnancy were 1.17 times more likely to have a history of wheezing, 1.46 times more likely to have doctor-diagnosed asthma, 1.24 times more likely to have suffered a pruritic rash in the last 12 months, and 1.11 times more likely to have doctor-diagnosed atopic dermatitis than those born to non-smoking women without such exposure.

ETS exposure during other trimesters was also associated with an increased risk of these childhood conditions, but to a lesser extent than exposure during the third trimester.

“This study demonstrates for the first time that passive exposure of non-smoking pregnant women to ETS may be associated with the development of allergy- and asthma-related symptoms in their children,” Xepapadaki and team conclude.

They add: “In addition to encouragement of smoking cessation, efforts should be made for pregnant women not to be exposed to ETS in public places. Clinicians need to be aware of this risk factor and encourage pregnant women to avoid such exposure.”

source: http://www.smokersinfo.net

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