Early exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and the development of allergic diseases in 4 year old children in Malmö, Sweden
1 Scania University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Sweden
BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:61 doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-61Published: 23 August 2010
Earlier studies have shown an association between secondhand tobacco smoke and allergy development in children. Furthermore, there is an increased risk of developing an allergy if the parents have an allergy. However, there are only few studies investigating the potential synergistic effect of secondhand tobacco smoke and allergic heredity on the development of an allergy.
The study was population-based cross-sectional with retrospective information on presence of secondhand tobacco smoke during early life. The study population consisted of children who visited the Child Health Care (CHC) centres in Malmö for their 4-year health checkup during 2006-2008 and whose parents answered a self-administered questionnaire (n = 4,278 children). The questionnaire was distributed to parents of children registered with the CHC and invited for the 4-year checkup during the study period.
There was a two to four times increased odds of the child having an allergy or having sought medical care due to allergic symptoms if at least one parent had an allergy, while there were rather small increased odds related to presence of secondhand smoke during the child's first month in life or at the age of 8 months. However, children with heredity for allergies and with presence of secondhand tobacco smoke during their first year in life had highly increased odds of developing an allergy and having sought medical care due to allergic symptoms at 4 years of age. Thus, there was a synergistic effect enhancing the independent effects of heredity and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke on allergy development.
Children with a family history of allergies and early exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke is a risk group that prevention and intervention should pay extra attention to. The tobacco smoke effect on children is an essential and urgent question considering it not being self chosen, possibly giving life lasting negative health effects and being possible to reduce.