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Smoke exposure as a risk factor for asthma in childhood: A review of current evidence

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Asthma is a common chronic multifactorial disease that affects >300 million people worldwide. Outdoor and indoor pollution exposure has been associated with respiratory health effects in adults and children. Smoking still represents a huge public health problem and millions of children suffer the detrimental effects of passive smoke exposure. This study was designed to review the current evidences on exposure to passive smoke as a risk factor for asthma onset in childhood. A review of the most recent studies on this topic was undertaken to provide evidence about the magnitude of the effect of passive smoking on the risk of incidence of asthma in children. The effects of passive smoking are different depending on individual and environmental factors. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is one of the most important indoor air pollutants and can interact with other air pollutants in eliciting respiratory outcomes during childhood. The increased risk of respiratory outcomes in children exposed to prenatal and early postnatal passive smoke might be caused by an adverse effect on both the immune system and the structural and functional development of the lung; this may explain the subsequent increased risk of incident asthma. The magnitude of the exposure is quite difficult to precisely quantify because it is significantly influenced by the child's daily activities. Because exposure to ETS is a likely cause for asthma onset in childhood, there is a strong need to prevent infants and children from breathing air contaminated with tobacco smoke.
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Keywords: asthma; children; environment; immune system; indoor; infants; lung development; pollutants; smoke exposure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1Department of Science for Health Promotion and Mother and Child, Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy

Publication date: 01 November 2014

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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