Mom’s Habit is a Kid’s Disease
March 22, 2004
By Stacie Overton, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Most people know smoking while pregnant is a no-no, but new research shows smoking after pregnancy is just as harmful to kids.
Results from a study presented Saturday at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s Annual Meeting show long-term smoke exposure in the womb and after birth increases the risk of airway disorders in a child’s first 10 years.
Michael Kulig, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from Charite University Medical Center in Berlin studied the effect of smoke exposure on 1,314 newborns through parental questionnaires and interviews. One-third of the children were at “high risk” for allergies. Researchers studied what effect tobacco exposure had on children in utero as well as after birth. They looked for these airway disorders: allergic sensitization to inhalant allergens (like pollen), allergic rhinitis, wheezing and respiratory infections.
Smoke exposure among kids increased as the kids grew older. Nearly 20 percent of kids had been exposed to second-hand smoke from their fathers only, while about 25 percent had been continuously exposed from their mothers. About 40 percent of the children had never been exposed to smoke from either parent.
In children whose parents had allergies, smoke exposure in the womb that continued after birth significantly increased the risk of allergic sensitization to inhalant allergens and wheezing. However, the risk was only seen in children who had a genetic predisposition to allergy.
In children who had one allergic parent, the combination of pre- and postnatal secondhand smoke increased the risk of allergic sensitization 1.8-fold. When both parents were allergic, secondhand smoke exposure increased that risk 7-fold. Likewise, for wheezing, there was a 2.1-fold increased risk among exposed children with one allergic parent, while there was a 5.7-fold increased risk when both parents were allergic.
Michael Kulig, Ph.D., from Charite University, says, “Long-term passive pre- and postnatal tobacco smoke exposure increases the risk for allergic sensitization or wheezing during the first 10- years of life.”
Statistics show about 40 percent of children under age 5 in the United States are living in homes where they’re exposed to cigarette smoke on a daily basis.
SOURCE: Stacie Overton at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology’s 60th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, March 19-23, 2004
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