Acute asthma symptoms usually manifest in children, especialy during the teenage years, if their mothers smoked during pregnancy, a recent study has revealed.
In an analysis of nearly 2,500 Latino and African-American children with asthma, the researchers found that children between age 8 and 17 with acute asthma symptoms were far more likely to have had mothers who smoked during pregnancy, even when the team controlled for elements such as education, socioeconomic level and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke.
"If women smoked while pregnant, their children had about a 50 percent increase in uncontrolled asthma, even when we controlled for current tobacco exposure," said Sam S. Oh, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral scholar in epidemiology at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Research and Education, who is first author on the paper. "Kids who are 17 years old still show the effects of something they were exposed to during the first nine months of life."
The findings are significant in light of the greater proportion of women from ethnic minorities who smoke throughout their pregnancies, the researchers said, as well as the higher rates of asthma within both of those communities than in the overall U.S. population.
The results will appear in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and can be found in the advance online edition at www.jacionline.com.
Acute asthma significantly affects the quality of life of patients and their families, costing an estimated $56 billion per year in the United States in medical expenses, premature deaths and missed days of work and school, according to the National Institutes of Health.
While extensive research has shown the effect of smoking on asthma risk in young children, the relative contribution of smoking during pregnancy has not been well established, with even less research focused on the populations that are more likely to use tobacco during pregnancy, according to the researchers.