Smoking Boosts Risk of Asthma

Prenatal smoking boosts teen girls' asthma risk: Girls whose mothers smoked heavily during pregnancy are more likely to have asthma symptoms at age 14, an Australian study shows.

However, the researchers found no such link between a mother's smoking and boys' asthma risk.

The gender difference may be because boys mature at different rates than girls or maternal smoking could be more damaging to the lungs of female foetuses, Dr Rosa Alati of the University of Queensland and her colleagues suggest.

The researchers note in a report in Epidemiology that young children whose parents smoke at home are known to be at greater risk of asthma and wheezing, while mothers who smoke during pregnancy may also increase their child's risk of having asthma symptoms early in life.

But they say there is little information on whether this increased asthma risk persists past early childhood.

To investigate, the researchers analysed the results of a study including nearly 4,000 children born between 1981 and 1984.

At age 14, the girls were nearly twice as likely to have asthma symptoms if their mothers smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day during pregnancy. The risk was slightly greater if mothers also smoked heavily during the girls' early infancy.

However, the researchers found in utero exposure to cigarette smoking had a stronger effect than exposure after birth.

While the increased risks for girls were seen consistently at all ages, Dr Alati and her team note other studies have not found this gender difference, making the findings “difficult to interpret.”

– Reuters; April 2006

Emed Comment:

Yet another study stating the obvious. If you smoke you need to stop, not only for your own health's sake, but for your kids. This study suggests that the impact is greater on girls but the data is still unclear.

If you smoke it will effect you kids either directly or indirectly. Children of smokers are far more likely to take up the habit themselves. So you are effecting the health of your family every time you light up.