Smoking during pregnancy linked to asthma severity in kids

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New York, March 6 (IANS) Women who smoke while pregnant contribute to the severity of asthma and poor lung function in their children, warns a study.

The findings published in the journal CHEST suggest that tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy is more strongly associated with worse lung function than current, ongoing exposure in school-aged children with asthma.

“This study implicates maternal smoking in pregnancy as the period of second-hand exposure that is more strongly associated with worse lung function in asthmatic children,” said lead investigator Stacey-Ann Whittaker Brown from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

“Maternal smoking in pregnancy may set children with asthma on a trajectory of poor lung function in later childhood, and other studies suggest this effect may be lifelong,” Whittaker Brown said.

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Investigators analysed the relationship between lung function and the type of second-hand smoke exposure in a representative sample of school-aged children aged six to 11 years.

The sample consisted of 2,070 children who participated in the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US.

Detailed information about ongoing second-hand smoke exposure as well as parental self-reported exposure prior to birth was obtained.

During the study period, lung function was measured using spirometry, and exposure to smoking was assessed through levels of cotinine in the blood, a marker of the extent of current second-hand smoke exposure.

Thus, investigators were able to distinguish clearly between exposure in pregnancy and ongoing second-hand smoke exposure.

Nearly 10 per cent of both children with and without asthma in the sample had reduced lung function.

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Investigators found that current tobacco smoke exposure was independently associated with airflow obstruction in school-aged children, although the extent of the association was small.

However, prenatal tobacco smoke exposure was associated with a 2.5 times increase in odds of having airflow obstruction in children with asthma, the study said.

–IANS

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