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1.  The impact of secondhand smoke on asthma control among Black and Latino children 
Background
Among people with asthma, the clinical impact and relative contribution of maternal smoking during pregnancy (in utero smoking) and current secondhand smoke exposure on asthma control is poorly documented, and there is a paucity of research involving minority populations.
Objectives
To examine the association between poor asthma control and in utero smoking and current secondhand smoke exposure among Latino and Black children with asthma.
Methods
Case-only analysis of 2 multi-center case-control studies conducted from 2008–2010 using similar protocols. We recruited 2,481 Latinos and Blacks with asthma (ages 8–17) from the mainland United States and Puerto Rico. Ordinal logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of in utero smoking and current secondhand smoke exposures on National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-defined asthma control.
Results
Poor asthma control among children 8–17 years of age was independently associated with in utero smoking (odds ratio; 95% confidence interval = 1.5; 1.1–2.0). In utero smoking via the mother was also associated with secondary asthma outcomes, including early onset asthma (1.7; 1.1–2.4), daytime symptoms (1.6; 1.1–2.1), and asthma-related limitation of activities (1.6; 1.2–2.2).
Conclusions
Maternal smoking while in utero is associated with poor asthma control in Black and Latino subjects assessed at 8–17 years of age.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.03.017
PMCID: PMC3367092  PMID: 22552109
Secondhand smoke; prenatal exposure delayed effects; asthma; health status disparities
2.  Effects of In Utero and Childhood Tobacco Smoke Exposure and β2-Adrenergic Receptor Genotype on Childhood Asthma and Wheezing 
Pediatrics  2008;122(1):e107-e114.
Objective
Associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the β2-adrenergic receptor gene and asthma and wheeze have been inconsistent. Recent studies indicated that tobacco smoke affects β2-adrenergic receptor gene expression and associations of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants with asthma in adults. We aimed to investigate the joint effects of in utero and childhood secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and 2 well-characterized functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Arg16Gly and Glu27Gln) of β2-adrenergic receptor gene on asthma and wheezing in 3128 non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children of the Children's Health Study.
Methods
We fitted logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the independent and joint effects of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms and in utero and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure on asthma and wheeze outcomes.
Results
Exposures to in utero maternal smoking and secondhand tobacco smoke were associated with wheezing. Children who were homozygous for the Arg16 allele and were exposed to maternal smoking in utero were at a threefold increased risk for lifetime wheeze compared with children who were unexposed and had at least 1 Gly16 allele. We found similar joint effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and Arg16Gly with wheezing. The risk for lifetime, current, and nocturnal wheeze increased with the number of smokers at home among Arg16 homozygous children. The results were consistent in 2 cohorts of children recruited in 1993 and 1996. Diplotype-based analyses were consistent with the single-nucleotide polymorphism–specific results. No associations were found for Glu27Gln.
Conclusions
Both in utero and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with an increased risk for wheeze in children, and the risks were greater for children with the Arg16Arg genotype or 2 copies of the Arg16–Gln27 diplotype. Exposures to smoking need to be taken into account when evaluating the effects of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants on respiratory health outcomes.
doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3370
PMCID: PMC2748980  PMID: 18558635
β-2 adrenergic receptor; prenatal exposure; secondhand-smoke exposure; asthma; wheeze
3.  A Twin Study of Early-Childhood Asthma in Puerto Ricans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68473.
Background
The relative contributions of genetics and environment to asthma in Hispanics or to asthma in children younger than 3 years are not well understood.
Objective
To examine the relative contributions of genetics and environment to early-childhood asthma by performing a longitudinal twin study of asthma in Puerto Rican children ≤3 years old.
Methods
678 twin infants from the Puerto Rico Neo-Natal Twin Registry were assessed for asthma at age 1 year, with follow-up data obtained for 624 twins at age 3 years. Zygosity was determined by DNA microsatellite profiling. Structural equation modeling was performed for three phenotypes at ages 1 and 3 years: physician-diagnosed asthma, asthma medication use in the past year, and ≥1 hospitalization for asthma in the past year. Models were additionally adjusted for early-life environmental tobacco smoke exposure, sex, and age.
Results
The prevalences of physician-diagnosed asthma, asthma medication use, and hospitalization for asthma were 11.6%, 10.8%, 4.9% at age 1 year, and 34.1%, 40.1%, and 8.5% at 3 years, respectively. Shared environmental effects contributed to the majority of variance in susceptibility to physician-diagnosed asthma and asthma medication use in the first year of life (84%–86%), while genetic effects drove variance in all phenotypes (45%–65%) at age 3 years. Early-life environmental tobacco smoke, sex, and age contributed to variance in susceptibility.
Conclusion
Our longitudinal study in Puerto Rican twins demonstrates a changing contribution of shared environmental effects to liability for physician-diagnosed asthma and asthma medication use between ages 1 and 3 years. Early-life environmental tobacco smoke reduction could markedly reduce asthma morbidity in young Puerto Rican children.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068473
PMCID: PMC3700929  PMID: 23844206
4.  Modifiable exposures to air pollutants related to asthma phenotypes in the first year of life in children of the EDEN mother-child cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:506.
Background
Studies have shown diverse strength of evidence for the associations between air pollutants and childhood asthma, but these associations have scarcely been documented in the early life. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impacts of various air pollutants on the development of asthma phenotypes in the first year of life.
Methods
Adjusted odds ratios were estimated to assess the relationships between exposures to air pollutants and single and multi-dimensional asthma phenotypes in the first year of life in children of the EDEN mother-child cohort study (n = 1,765 mother-child pairs). The Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) model was used to determine the associations between prenatal maternal smoking and in utero exposure to traffic-related air pollution and asthma phenotypes (data were collected when children were at birth, and at 4, 8 and 12 months of age). Adjusted Population Attributable Risk (aPAR) was estimated to measure the impacts of air pollutants on health outcomes.
Results
In the first year of life, both single and multi-dimensional asthma phenotypes were positively related to heavy parental smoking, traffic-related air pollution and dampness, but negatively associated with contact with cats and domestic wood heating. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for traffic-related air pollution were the highest [1.71 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.08-2.72) for ever doctor-diagnosed asthma, 1.44 (95% CI: 1.05-1.99) for bronchiolitis with wheezing, 2.01 (95% CI: 1.23-3.30) for doctor-diagnosed asthma with a history of bronchiolitis]. The aPARs based on these aORs were 13.52%, 9.39%, and 17.78%, respectively. Results persisted for prenatal maternal smoking and in utero exposure to traffic-related air pollution, although statistically significant associations were observed only with the asthma phenotype of ever bronchiolitis.
Conclusions
After adjusting for potential confounders, traffic-related air pollution in utero life and in the first year of life, had a greater impact on the development of asthma phenotypes compared to other factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-506
PMCID: PMC3671198  PMID: 23705590
Environment; Traffic-related air pollution; Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS); Pets; Moulds; Asthma; Children
5.  IL13 gene polymorphisms modify the effect of exposure to tobacco smoke on persistent wheeze and asthma in childhood, a longitudinal study 
Respiratory Research  2008;9(1):2.
Background
Tobacco smoke and genetic susceptibility are risk factors for asthma and wheezing. The aim of this study was to investigate whether there is a combined effect of interleukin-13 gene (IL13) polymorphisms and tobacco smoke on persistent childhood wheezing and asthma.
Methods
In the Isle of Wight birth cohort (UK, 1989–1999), five IL13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): rs1800925 (-1112C/T), rs2066960, rs1295686, rs20541 (R130Q) and rs1295685 were genotyped. Parents were asked whether their children had wheezed in the last 12 months at ages 1, 2, 4 and 10 years. Children who reported wheeze in the first 4 years of life and also had wheezing at age 10 were classified as early-onset persistent wheeze phenotype; non-wheezers never wheezed up to age 10. Persistent asthma was defined as having a diagnosis of asthma both during the first four years of life and at age 10. Logistic regression methods were used to analyze data on 791 children with complete information. Potential confounders were gender, birth weight, duration of breast feeding, and household cat or dog present during pregnancy.
Results
Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with early-onset persistent wheeze (OR 2.93, p < 0.0001); polymorphisms in IL13 were not (OR 1.15, p = 0.60 for the common haplotype pair). However, the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy was stronger in children with the common IL13 haplotype pair compared to those without it (OR 5.58 and OR 1.29, respectively; p for interaction = 0.014). Single SNP analysis revealed a similar statistical significance for rs20541 (p for interaction = 0.02). Comparable results were observed for persistent childhood asthma (p for interaction = 0.03).
Conclusion
This is the first report that shows a combined effect of in utero exposure to smoking and IL13 on asthma phenotypes in childhood. The results emphasize that genetic studies need to take environmental exposures into account, since they may explain contradictory findings.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-9-2
PMCID: PMC2265286  PMID: 18186920
6.  Do Grandmaternal Smoking Patterns Influence the Etiology of Childhood Asthma? 
Chest  2013;145(6):1213-1218.
Background:
Animal data suggest that tobacco smoke exposure of a mother when she is in utero influences DNA methylation patterns in her offspring and that there is an effect on the respiratory system, particularly airway responsiveness. The only study, to our knowledge, in humans suggests that there is a similar effect on asthma. The present study tests whether an association with respiratory problems can be confirmed in a large population study and aims to determine whether in utero exposure of the father has similar effects on his offspring.
Methods:
Information from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children was used to compare the offspring of women and of men who had themselves been exposed to cigarette smoke in utero; separate analyses were performed for children of women smokers and nonsmokers. The outcome measures were trajectories of history of early wheezing, doctor-diagnosed asthma by age 7 years, and results of lung function and methacholine challenge tests at 8 years. A variety of social and environmental factors were taken into account; offspring sexes were examined separately.
Results:
There was no association with any outcome in relation to maternal prenatal exposure. There was some evidence of an increase in asthma risk with paternal prenatal exposure when the study mother was a nonsmoker (adjusted OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.97-1.41). This was particularly strong for girls (adjusted OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.04-1.86).
Conclusions:
We did not find that maternal prenatal exposure to her mother’s smoking had any effect on her children’s respiratory outcomes. There was suggestive evidence of paternal prenatal exposure being associated with asthma and persistent wheezing in the granddaughters.
doi:10.1378/chest.13-1371
PMCID: PMC4042509  PMID: 24158349
7.  Household environmental tobacco smoke and risks of asthma, wheeze and bronchitic symptoms among children in Taiwan 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):11.
Background
Although studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of respiratory outcomes in childhood, evidence concerning the effects of household environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure remains inconsistent.
Methods
We conducted a population-based study comprised of 5,019 seventh and eighth-grade children in 14 Taiwanese communities. Questionnaire responses by parents were used to ascertain children's exposure and disease status. Logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the effects of ETS exposures on the prevalence of asthma, wheeze, and bronchitic symptoms.
Results
The lifetime prevalence of wheeze was 11.6% and physician-diagnosed asthma was 7.5% in our population. After adjustment for potential confounders, in utero exposure showed the strongest effect on all respiratory outcomes. Current household ETS exposure was significantly associated with increased prevalence of active asthma, ever wheeze, wheeze with nighttime awakening, and bronchitis. Maternal smoking was associated with the increased prevalence of a wide range of wheeze subcategories, serious asthma, and chronic cough, but paternal smoking had no significant effects. Although maternal smoking alone and paternal smoking alone were not independently associated with respiratory outcomes, joint exposure appeared to increase the effects. Furthermore, joint exposure to parental smoking showed a significant effect on early-onset asthma (OR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.00-4.02), but did not show a significant effect on late-onset asthma (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.36-3.87).
Conclusion
We concluded that prenatal and household ETS exposure had significant adverse effects on respiratory health in Taiwanese children.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-11-11
PMCID: PMC2828425  PMID: 20113468
8.  Association of Secondhand Smoke Exposure with Pediatric Invasive Bacterial Disease and Bacterial Carriage: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000374.
Majid Ezzati and colleagues report the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis that probes the association between environmental exposure to secondhand smoke and the epidemiology of pediatric invasive bacterial disease.
Background
A number of epidemiologic studies have observed an association between secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure and pediatric invasive bacterial disease (IBD) but the evidence has not been systematically reviewed. We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of SHS exposure and two outcomes, IBD and pharyngeal carriage of bacteria, for Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis), Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae).
Methods and Findings
Two independent reviewers searched Medline, EMBASE, and selected other databases, and screened articles for inclusion and exclusion criteria. We identified 30 case-control studies on SHS and IBD, and 12 cross-sectional studies on SHS and bacterial carriage. Weighted summary odd ratios (ORs) were calculated for each outcome and for studies with specific design and quality characteristics. Tests for heterogeneity and publication bias were performed. Compared with those unexposed to SHS, summary OR for SHS exposure was 2.02 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.52–2.69) for invasive meningococcal disease, 1.21 (95% CI 0.69–2.14) for invasive pneumococcal disease, and 1.22 (95% CI 0.93–1.62) for invasive Hib disease. For pharyngeal carriage, summary OR was 1.68 (95% CI, 1.19–2.36) for N. meningitidis, 1.66 (95% CI 1.33–2.07) for S. pneumoniae, and 0.96 (95% CI 0.48–1.95) for Hib. The association between SHS exposure and invasive meningococcal and Hib diseases was consistent regardless of outcome definitions, age groups, study designs, and publication year. The effect estimates were larger in studies among children younger than 6 years of age for all three IBDs, and in studies with the more rigorous laboratory-confirmed diagnosis for invasive meningococcal disease (summary OR 3.24; 95% CI 1.72–6.13).
Conclusions
When considered together with evidence from direct smoking and biological mechanisms, our systematic review and meta-analysis indicates that SHS exposure may be associated with invasive meningococcal disease. The epidemiologic evidence is currently insufficient to show an association between SHS and invasive Hib disease or pneumococcal disease. Because the burden of IBD is highest in developing countries where SHS is increasing, there is a need for high-quality studies to confirm these results, and for interventions to reduce exposure of children to SHS.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The deleterious health effects of smoking on smokers are well established, but smoking also seriously damages the health of nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke (SHS), which is released by burning cigarettes and exhaled by smokers, contains hundreds of toxic chemicals that increase the risk of adults developing lung cancer and heart disease. Children, however, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of SHS exposure (also known as passive smoking) because they are still developing physically. In addition, children have little control over their indoor environment and thus can be heavily exposed to SHS. Exposure to SHS increases the risk of ear infections, asthma, respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, and breathlessness), and lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis in young children and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome during the first year of life.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several studies have also shown an association between SHS exposure (which damages the lining of the mouth, throat, and lungs and decreases immune defenses) and potentially fatal invasive bacterial disease (IBD) in children. In IBD, bacteria invade the body and grow in normally sterile sites such as the blood (bacteremia) and the covering of the brain (meningitis). Three organisms are mainly responsible for IBD in children—Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), and Neisseria meningitidis. In 2000, S. pneumonia (pneumococcal disease) alone killed nearly one million children. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between SHS exposure in children and two outcomes—IBD and the presence of IBD-causing organisms in the nose and throat (bacterial carriage). A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies. By combining data, it is possible to get a clearer view of the causes of a disease than is possible from individual studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 30 case-control studies that compared the occurrence of IBD over time in children exposed to SHS with its occurrence in children not exposed to SHS. They also identified 12 cross-sectional studies that measured bacterial carriage at a single time point in children exposed and not exposed to SHS. The researchers used the data from these studies to calculate a “summary odds ratio” (OR) for each outcome—a measure of how SHS exposure affected the likelihood of each outcome. Compared with children unexposed to SHS, exposure to SHS doubled the likelihood of invasive meningococcal disease (a summary OR for SHS exposure of 2.02). Summary ORs for invasive pneumococcal disease and Hib diseases were 1.21 and 1.22, respectively. However, these small increases in the risk of developing these IBDs were not statistically significant unlike the increase in the risk of developing meningococcal disease. That is, they might have occurred by chance. For bacterial carriage, summary ORs for SHS exposure were 1.68 for N. meningitidis, 1.66 for S. pneumonia (both these ORs were statistically significant), and 0.96 for Hib (a nonsignificant decrease in risk).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that SHS exposure is significantly associated with invasive meningococcal disease among children. However, the evidence that SHS exposure is associated with invasive pneumococcal and Hib disease is only suggestive. These findings also indicate that exposure to SHS is associated with an increased carriage of N. meningitidis and S. pneumoniae. The accuracy and generalizability of these findings is limited by the small number of studies identified, by the lack of studies from developing countries where SHS exposure is increasing and the burden of IBD is high, and by large variations between the studies in how SHS exposure was measured and IBD diagnosed. Nevertheless, they suggest that, by reducing children's exposure to SHS (by, for example, persuading parents not to smoke at home), the illness and death caused by IBDs among children could be greatly reduced. Such a reduction would be particularly welcome in developing countries where vaccination against IBDs is low.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000374.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on secondhand smoke, on children and secondhand smoke exposure, on meningitis, and on Hib infection
The US Environmental Protection Agency also provides information on the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke (in English and Spanish) and a leaflet (also in English and Spanish) entitled Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family
The US Office of the Surgeon General provides information on the health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke
The World Health Organization provides a range of information on the global tobacco epidemic
The World Health Organization has information on meningococcal disease (in English only) and on Hib (in several languages)
The US National Foundation for Infectious Diseases provides a fact sheet on pneumococcal disease
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000374
PMCID: PMC2998445  PMID: 21151890
9.  Transforming Growth Factor-β1 C-509T Polymorphism, Oxidant Stress, and Early-Onset Childhood Asthma 
Rationale: Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is involved in airway inflammation and remodeling, two key processes in asthma pathogenesis. Tobacco smoke and traffic emissions induce airway inflammation and modulate TGF-β1 gene expression. We hypothesized that the effects of functional TGF-β1 variants on asthma occurrence vary by these exposures.
Objectives: We tested these hypotheses among 3,023 children who participated in the Children's Health Study.
Methods: Tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms rs4803457 C>T and C-509T (a functional promoter polymorphism) accounted for 94% of the haplotype diversity of the upstream region. Exposure to maternal smoking in utero was based on smoking by biological mother during pregnancy. Residential distance from nearest freeway was calculated based on residential address at study entry.
Measurements and Main Results: Children with the −509TT genotype had a 1.8-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–2.95). This association varied marginally significantly by in utero exposure to maternal smoking. Compared with children with the −509CC/CT genotype with no in utero exposure to maternal smoking, those with the −509TT genotype with such exposure had a 3.4-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% CI, 1.46–7.80; interaction, P = 0.11). The association between TGF-β1 C-509T and lifetime asthma varied by residential proximity to freeways (interaction P = 0.02). Children with the −509TT genotype living within 500 m of a freeway had over three-fold increased lifetime asthma risk (95% CI, 1.29–7.44) compared with children with CC/CT genotype living > 1500 m from a freeway.
Conclusions: Children with the TGF-β1 −509TT genotype are at increased risk of asthma when they are exposed to maternal smoking in utero or to traffic-related emissions.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200704-561OC
PMCID: PMC2176104  PMID: 17673695
maternal smoking; traffic; asthma; genetics; gene–environment interaction; association study
10.  Changes in Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure and Asthma Morbidity Among Urban School Children 
Chest  2008;135(4):911-916.
Background:
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure is associated with poor asthma outcomes in children. However, little is known about natural changes in ETS exposure over time in children with asthma and how these changes may affect health-care utilization. This article documents the relationship between changes in ETS exposure and childhood asthma morbidity among children enrolled in a clinical trial of supervised asthma therapy.
Methods:
Data for this analysis come from a large randomized clinical trial of supervised asthma therapy in which 290 children with persistent asthma were randomized to receive either usual care or supervised asthma therapy. No smoking cessation counseling or ETS exposure education was provided to caregivers; however, children were given 20 min of asthma education, which incorporated discussion of the avoidance of asthma triggers, including ETS. Asthma morbidity and ETS exposure data were collected from caregivers via telephone interviews at baseline and at the 1-year follow-up.
Results:
At baseline, 28% of caregivers reported ETS exposure in the home and 19% reported exposure outside of the primary household only. Among children whose ETS exposure decreased from baseline, fewer hospitalizations (p = 0.034) and emergency department (ED) visits (p ≤ 0.001) were reported in the 12 months prior to the second interview compared to the 12 months prior to the first interview. Additionally, these children were 48% less likely (p = 0.042) to experience an episode of poor asthma control (EPAC).
Conclusions:
This is the first study to demonstrate an association between ETS exposure reduction and fewer EPACs, respiratory-related ED visits, and hospitalizations. These findings emphasize the importance of ETS exposure reduction as a mechanism to improve asthma control and morbidity. Potential policy implications include supporting ETS reductions and smoking cessation interventions for parents and caregivers of children with asthma. Research to identify the most cost-effective strategy is warranted.
Trial registration:
Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00110383
doi:10.1378/chest.08-1869
PMCID: PMC2763557  PMID: 19017893
asthma; children; environmental tobacco smoke; tobacco smoke pollution
11.  Effects of BMI, Fat Mass, and Lean Mass on Asthma in Childhood: A Mendelian Randomization Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001669.
In this study, Granell and colleagues used Mendelian randomization to investigate causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ years in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and found that higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Observational studies have reported associations between body mass index (BMI) and asthma, but confounding and reverse causality remain plausible explanations. We aim to investigate evidence for a causal effect of BMI on asthma using a Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used Mendelian randomization to investigate causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ y in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A weighted allele score based on 32 independent BMI-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was derived from external data, and associations with BMI, fat mass, lean mass, and asthma were estimated. We derived instrumental variable (IV) estimates of causal risk ratios (RRs). 4,835 children had available data on BMI-associated SNPs, asthma, and BMI. The weighted allele score was strongly associated with BMI, fat mass, and lean mass (all p-values<0.001) and with childhood asthma (RR 2.56, 95% CI 1.38–4.76 per unit score, p = 0.003). The estimated causal RR for the effect of BMI on asthma was 1.55 (95% CI 1.16–2.07) per kg/m2, p = 0.003. This effect appeared stronger for non-atopic (1.90, 95% CI 1.19–3.03) than for atopic asthma (1.37, 95% CI 0.89–2.11) though there was little evidence of heterogeneity (p = 0.31). The estimated causal RRs for the effects of fat mass and lean mass on asthma were 1.41 (95% CI 1.11–1.79) per 0.5 kg and 2.25 (95% CI 1.23–4.11) per kg, respectively. The possibility of genetic pleiotropy could not be discounted completely; however, additional IV analyses using FTO variant rs1558902 and the other BMI-related SNPs separately provided similar causal effects with wider confidence intervals. Loss of follow-up was unlikely to bias the estimated effects.
Conclusions
Higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood. Higher BMI may have contributed to the increase in asthma risk toward the end of the 20th century.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The global burden of asthma, a chronic (long-term) condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs), has been rising steadily over the past few decades. It is estimated that, nowadays, 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma. Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke, becoming narrower so that less air can enter the lungs. Exercise, cold air, and infections can also trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
We cannot halt the ongoing rise in global asthma rates without understanding the causes of asthma. Some experts think obesity may be one cause of asthma. Obesity, like asthma, is increasingly common, and observational studies (investigations that ask whether individuals exposed to a suspected risk factor for a condition develop that condition more often than unexposed individuals) in children have reported that body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) is positively associated with asthma. Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes asthma because of “confounding.” Overweight children with asthma may share another unknown characteristic (confounder) that actually causes both obesity and asthma. Moreover, children with asthma may be less active than unaffected children, so they become overweight (reverse causality). Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to assess whether BMI has a causal effect on asthma. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the effect of a modifiable risk factor and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. So, if a higher BMI leads to asthma, genetic variants associated with increased BMI should be associated with an increased risk of asthma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers investigated causal effects of BMI, fat mass, and lean mass on current asthma at age 7½ years in 4,835 children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC, a long-term health project that started in 1991). They calculated an allele score for each child based on 32 BMI-related genetic variants, and estimated associations between this score and BMI, fat mass and lean mass (both measured using a special type of X-ray scanner; in children BMI is not a good indicator of “fatness”), and asthma. They report that the allele score was strongly associated with BMI, fat mass, and lean mass, and with childhood asthma. The estimated causal relative risk (risk ratio) for the effect of BMI on asthma was 1.55 per kg/m2. That is, the relative risk of asthma increased by 55% for every extra unit of BMI. The estimated causal relative risks for the effects of fat mass and lean mass on asthma were 1.41 per 0.5 kg and 2.25 per kg, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI increases the risk of asthma in mid-childhood and that global increases in BMI toward the end of the 20th century may have contributed to the global increase in asthma that occurred at the same time. It is possible that the observed association between BMI and asthma reported in this study is underpinned by “genetic pleiotropy” (a potential limitation of all Mendelian randomization analyses). That is, some of the genetic variants included in the BMI allele score could conceivably also increase the risk of asthma. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that public health interventions designed to reduce obesity may also help to limit the global rise in asthma.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001669.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma and on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information on asthma and on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obesity (including real stories)
The Global Asthma Report 2011 is available
The Global Initiative for Asthma released its updated Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention on World Asthma Day 2014
Information about the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is available
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on obesity in children, on asthma, and on asthma in children (in English and Spanish
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001669
PMCID: PMC4077660  PMID: 24983943
12.  Effects of active tobacco smoking on the prevalence of asthma-like symptoms in adolescents 
The prevalence of asthma in adolescents markedly varies between different localities as found by the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) and this may be due to environmental factors. Although tobacco smoke exposure is related to an increase in the prevalence of asthma, there is lack of information on that respect in children from developing countries, where active tobacco smoking usually starts early in adolescence. This study was undertaken to assess the effect of tobacco smoking on the prevalence of asthma symptoms in a random sample of 4738 adolescents aged 13.4 ± 1.05 years who responded the ISAAC video questionnaires plus questions on tobacco smoking. The prevalence of tobacco smoking in the last 12 months was 16.2%, with significant female predominance. The persistent smokers had a significantly higher prevalence of asthma-like symptoms ever and in the last 12 months (wheezing, wheezing with exercise, nocturnal wheezing, severe wheezing, and dry nocturnal cough) than ex-smokers and nonsmokers. More than 27% of asthma symptoms in our adolescents are attributable to active tobacco consumption (population attributable risk). This study strongly suggests that potent and more effective campaigns against tobacco smoking should be implemented in developing countries, where active tobacco smoking is dramatically increasing in children.
PMCID: PMC2692110  PMID: 18044067
asthma; prevalence; ISAAC; tobacco; video questionnaires
13.  Maternal smoking during pregnancy, environmental tobacco smoke exposure and childhood lung function 
Thorax  2000;55(4):271-276.
BACKGROUND—Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) during childhood and in utero exposure to maternal smoking are associated with adverse effects on lung growth and development.
METHODS—A study was undertaken of the associations between maternal smoking during pregnancy, exposure to ETS, and pulmonary function in 3357 school children residing in 12 Southern California communities. Current and past exposure to household ETS and exposure to maternal smoking in utero were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire completed by parents of 4th, 7th, and 10th grade students in 1993.Standard linear regression techniques were used to estimate the effects of in utero and ETS exposure on lung function, adjusting for age, sex, race, Hispanic ethnicity, height, weight, asthma, personal smoking, and selected household characteristics.
RESULTS—In utero exposure to maternal smoking was associated with reduced peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) (-3.0%, 95% CI -4.4 to -1.4), mean mid expiratory flow (MMEF) (-4.6%, 95% CI -7.0 to -2.3), and forced expiratory flow (FEF75) (-6.2%, 95% CI -9.1 to -3.1), but not forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). Adjusting for household ETS exposure did not substantially change these estimates. The reductions in flows associated with in utero exposure did not significantly vary with sex, race, grade, income, parental education, or personal smoking. Exposure to two or more current household smokers was associated with reduced MMEF (-4.1%, 95% CI -7.6 to -0.4) and FEF75 (-4.4%, 95% CI -9.0 to 0.4). Current or past maternal smoking was associated with reductions in PEFR and MMEF; however, after adjustment for in utero exposure, deficits in MMEF and FEF75 associated with all measurements of ETS were substantially reduced and were not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS—In utero exposure to maternal smoking is independently associated with decreased lung function in children of school age, especially for small airway flows.


doi:10.1136/thorax.55.4.271
PMCID: PMC1745733  PMID: 10722765
14.  High prevalence of asthma symptoms in Warao Amerindian children in Venezuela is significantly associated with open-fire cooking: a cross-sectional observational study 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):76.
Background
The International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) reported a prevalence of asthma symptoms in 17 centers in nine Latin American countries that was similar to prevalence rates reported in non-tropical countries. It has been proposed that the continuous exposure to infectious diseases in rural populations residing in tropical areas leads to a relatively low prevalence of asthma symptoms. As almost a quarter of Latin American people live in rural tropical areas, the encountered high prevalence of asthma symptoms is remarkable. Wood smoke exposure and environmental tobacco smoke have been identified as possible risk factors for having asthma symptoms.
Methods
We performed a cross-sectional observational study from June 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012 in which we interviewed parents and guardians of Warao Amerindian children from Venezuela. Asthma symptoms were defined according to the ISAAC definition as self-reported wheezing in the last 12 months. The associations between wood smoke exposure and environmental tobacco smoke and the prevalence of asthma symptoms were calculated by means of univariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses.
Results
We included 630 children between two and ten years of age. Asthma symptoms were recorded in 164 of these children (26%). The prevalence of asthma symptoms was associated with the cooking method. Children exposed to the smoke produced by cooking on open wood fires were at higher risk of having asthma symptoms compared to children exposed to cooking with gas (AOR 2.12, 95% CI 1.18 - 3.84). Four percent of the children lived in a household where more than ten cigarettes were smoked per day and they had a higher risk of having asthma symptoms compared to children who were not exposed to cigarette smoke (AOR 2.69, 95% CI 1.11 - 6.48).
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that children living in rural settings in a household where wood is used for cooking or where more than ten cigarettes are smoked daily have a higher risk of having asthma symptoms.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-76
PMCID: PMC3723947  PMID: 23870058
Asthma[Mesh]; Wheeze; Woodsmoke; Tobacco smoke pollution[Mesh]; Smoke[Mesh]; Indigenous children
15.  Prenatal and postnatal tobacco smoke exposure and respiratory health in Russian children 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):48.
Background
Only few studies have assessed the relative impact of prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke on the child's later asthma or chronic respiratory symptoms and to our knowledge no studies have elaborated respiratory infections and allergies in this context.
Objective
To assess the effects of prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke on respiratory health of Russian school children.
Methods
We studied a population of 5951 children (8 to12 years old) from 9 Russian cities, whose parents answered a questionnaire on their children's respiratory health, home environment, and housing characteristics. The main health outcomes were asthma, allergies, chronic respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections. We used adjusted odds ratios (ORs) from logistic regression analyses as measures of effect.
Results
Prenatal exposure due to maternal smoking had the strongest effects on asthma (adjusted OR 2.46, 95% CI 1.19–5.08), chronic bronchitis (adjusted OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.08–1.96) and respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing (adjusted OR 1.30, 95% CI 0.90–1.89). The associations were weaker for exposure during early-life (adjusted ORs 1.38/1.27/1.15 respectively) and after 2 years of age (adjusted ORs 1.45/1.34/1.18) compared to prenatal exposure and the weakest or non-existent for current exposure (adjusted ORs 1.05/1.09/1.06). Upper respiratory infections were associated more strongly with early-life exposure (adjusted OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.09–1.42) than with prenatal (adjusted OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.54–1.01) or current exposure (adjusted OR1.05, 95% CI 0.92–1.20). The risk of allergies was also related to early life exposure to tobacco smoke (adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.13–1.42).
Conclusion
Adverse effects of tobacco smoke on asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic respiratory symptoms are strongest when smoking takes place during pregnancy. The relations are weaker for exposure during early-life and after 2 years of age and weakest or non-existent for current exposure.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-48
PMCID: PMC1484481  PMID: 16569224
16.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
Conclusions
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001753.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001753
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
17.  Violence, Abuse, and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children 
Rationale: Puerto Ricans have the highest prevalence of and morbidity from asthma of all ethnic groups in the United States. One potential contributor to the high burden of asthma in Puerto Rican children is exposure to stress and violence.
Objectives: To examine whether exposure to stress and violence is associated with an increased risk of asthma among Puerto Rican children.
Methods: This study was a population-based probability sample of children in the San Juan and Caguas metropolitan areas in Puerto Rico. Information was collected in a household survey of 1,213 children and their primary caretakers.
Measurements and Main Results: The prevalence of lifetime physician-diagnosed asthma was 39.6%. In the year before the survey, 14% of children had witnessed an act of violence, 7% had been victims of violence, and 6% had been victims of physical or sexual abuse. Although stressful life events and exposure to neighborhood violence were not associated with asthma, a history of physical or sexual abuse was associated with approximately twice the odds of current asthma (odd ratio [OR], 2.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.27–5.00), health care use for asthma (OR, 1.95; 95% CI, 0.96–3.96), and medication use for asthma (OR, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.05–5.26).
Conclusions: Physical or sexual abuse is associated with high asthma morbidity among Puerto Rican children. To our knowledge, this is the first report of an association between childhood abuse and asthma. Our findings highlight the importance of screening for asthma among victims of childhood abuse, and to be aware of the possibility of physical or sexual abuse among children with asthma.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200711-1629OC
PMCID: PMC2542427  PMID: 18556622
asthma; children; stress; violence; abuse
18.  Parental smoking and children's respiratory health: independent effects of prenatal and postnatal exposure 
Tobacco Control  2006;15(4):294-301.
Objectives
Adverse effects have been reported of prenatal and/or postnatal passive exposure to smoking on children's health. Uncertainties remain about the relative importance of smoking at different periods in the child's life. We investigate this in a pooled analysis, on 53 879 children from 12 cross‐sectional studies—components of the PATY study (Pollution And The Young).
Methods
Effects were estimated, within each study, of three exposures: mother smoked during pregnancy, parental smoking in the first two years, current parental smoking. Outcomes were: wheeze, asthma, “woken by wheeze”, bronchitis, nocturnal cough, morning cough, “sensitivity to inhaled allergens” and hay fever. Logistic regressions were used, controlling for individual risk factors and study area. Heterogeneity between study‐specific results, and mean effects (allowing for heterogeneity) were estimated using meta‐analytical tools.
Results
There was strong evidence linking parental smoking to wheeze, asthma, bronchitis and nocturnal cough, with mean odds ratios all around 1.15, with independent effects of prenatal and postnatal exposures for most associations.
Conclusions
Adverse effects of both pre‐ and postnatal parental smoking on children's respiratory health were confirmed. Asthma was most strongly associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy, but postnatal exposure showed independent associations with a range of other respiratory symptoms. All tobacco smoke exposure has serious consequences for children's respiratory health and needs to be reduced urgently.
doi:10.1136/tc.2005.015065
PMCID: PMC2563598  PMID: 16885578
tobacco smoke; fetus; child; respiratory symptoms; asthma
19.  Summary of effects of parental smoking on the respiratory health of children and implications for research 
Thorax  1999;54(4):357-366.
BACKGROUND—Two recent reviews have assessed the effect of parental smoking on respiratory disease in children.
METHODS—The results of the systematic quantitative review published as a series in Thorax are summarised and brought up to date by considering papers appearing on Embase or Medline up to June 1998.The findings are compared with those of the review published recently by the Californian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Areas requiring further research are identified.
RESULTS—Overall there is a very consistent picture with odds ratios for respiratory illnesses and symptoms and middle ear disease of between 1.2 and 1.6 for either parent smoking, the odds usually being higher in pre-school than in school aged children. For sudden infant death syndrome the odds ratio for maternal smoking is about 2. Significant effects from paternal smoking suggest a role for postnatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Recent publications do not lead us to alter the conclusions of our earlier reviews. While essentially narrative rather than systematic and quantitative, the findings of the Californian EPA review are broadly similar. In addition they have reviewed studies of the effects of environmental tobacco smoke on children with cystic fibrosis and conclude from the limited evidence that there is a strong case for a relationship between parental smoking and admissions to hospital. They also review data from adults of the effects of acute exposure to environmental tobacco smoke under laboratory conditions which suggest acute effects on spirometric parameters rather than on bronchial hyperresponsiveness. It seems likely that such effects are also present in children.
CONCLUSIONS—Substantial benefits to children would arise if parents stopped smoking after birth, even if the mother smoked during pregnancy. Policies need to be developed which reduce smoking amongst parents and protect infants and young children from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The weight of evidence is such that new prevalence studies are no longer justified. What are needed are studies which allow comparison of the effects of critical periods of exposure to cigarette smoke, particularly in utero, early infancy, and later childhood. Where longitudinal studies are carried out they should be analysed to look at the way in which changes in exposure are related to changes in outcome. Better still would be studies demonstrating reversibility of adverse effects, especially in asthmatic subjects or children with cystic fibrosis.


PMCID: PMC1745458  PMID: 10092699
20.  Parental psychosocial stress and asthma morbidity in Puerto Rican twins 
Background
Little is known about paternal psychosocial factors and childhood asthma.
Objective
To examine the link between maternal and paternal psychosocial stress and asthma outcomes in young children.
Methods
Parents of 339 pairs of Puerto Rican twins were interviewed individually about their own psychosocial stress and about asthma in their children at age 1 and again about their child’s asthma at age 3. Fathers were asked about symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anti-social behavior. Mothers were asked about depressive symptoms. Outcomes assessed in children included recent asthma symptoms, oral steroid use and hospitalizations for asthma in the prior year, and asthma diagnosis. Generalized estimated equation models were used for the multivariate analysis of parental psychosocial stress and asthma morbidity in childhood.
Results
After multivariable adjustment, paternal PTSD symptoms, depression, and anti-social behavior were each associated with increased asthma symptoms at age 1 (e.g., OR =1.08 for each 1-point increase in PTSD score, 95% CI=1.03–1.14). Maternal depressive symptoms were associated with an increased risk of asthma hospitalizations at age 1 year. At age 3 years, maternal depressive symptoms were associated with asthma diagnosis and hospitalizations for asthma (OR for each 1-point increase in symptoms=1.16, 95% CI=1.00–1.36]). In an analysis combining 1 and 3 year outcomes, paternal depression was associated with oral steroid use, maternal depressive symptoms were associated with asthma hospitalizations and asthma diagnosis, and parental depression was associated with hospitalizations for asthma.
Conclusions
Both paternal and maternal psychosocial factors may influence asthma morbidity in young Puerto Rican children.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.010
PMCID: PMC3057225  PMID: 21194742
psychosocial stress; childhood wheeze; Puerto Rico; parental stress; asthma; paternal stress
21.  Environmental tobacco smoke, parental atopy, and childhood asthma. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2001;109(6):579-582.
We hypothesized that the joint effect of genetic propensity to asthma and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on the risk of childhood asthma is greater than expected on the basis of their independent effects. We performed a population-based 4-year cohort study of 2,531 children born in Oslo, Norway. We collected information on the child's health and environmental exposures at birth and when the child was 6, 12, 18, and 24 months and 4 years of age. The outcomes of interest were bronchial obstruction during the first 2 years and asthma at the age of 4 years. Parental atopy was defined as a history of maternal or paternal asthma or hay fever. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was defined on the basis of questionnaire information on household smokers at birth. In logistic regression analysis adjusting for confounding, parental atopy alone increased the risk of bronchial obstruction [odds ratio 1.62; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10-2.40] and asthma (1.66; 95% CI, 1.08-2.54). In children without parental atopy, there was little effect of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on bronchial obstruction (1.29; 95% CI, 0.88-1.89) and asthma (0.84; 95% CI, 0.53-1.34). The presence of parental atopy and exposure had a substantial effect both on bronchial obstruction (2.88; 95% CI, 1.91-4.32) and asthma (2.68; 95% CI, 1.70-4.22). The results are consistent with the hypothesized joint effect of parental atopy and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. This phenomenon--denoted as effect modification of environmental exposure by genetic constitution, or gene by environment interaction--suggests that some genetic markers could indicate susceptibility to environmental factors.
PMCID: PMC1240339  PMID: 11445511
22.  The association between endotoxin and lung function among children and adolescents living in a rural area 
Increased levels of endotoxin found in rural and agricultural areas are an environmental exposure believed to cause a paradoxical proinflammatory effect on respiratory health that can exacerbate asthma. Previous studies involving adults have demonstrated an association between high endotoxin levels and lower lung function. Apart from occupational settings, however, few studies have investigated the relationship between lung function and endotoxin exposure, such as environmental tobacco smoke, especially in children. This study examined the modifying effects of sex, pre-existing asthma and other environmental exposures, including tobacco smoke, in children living in rural communities in Saskatchewan.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:
Knowledge of the effects of domestic endotoxin on children’s lung function is limited. The association between domestic endotoxin and asthma or wheeze and lung function among school-age children (six to 18 years of age) was examined. The interaction between endotoxin and other personal and environmental characteristics and lung function was also assessed.
METHODS:
A case-control study was conducted in and around the rural community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, between 2005 and 2007. Parents of cases reported either doctor-diagnosed asthma or wheeze in the previous year. Controls were randomly selected from those not reporting these conditions. Data were collected by questionnaire to ascertain symptoms and conditions, while spirometry was used to measure lung function including forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in 1 s. Dust collected from the child’s play area floor and the child’s mattress was used to quantify endotoxin, and saliva was collected to quantify cotinine levels and assess tobacco smoke exposure.
RESULTS:
There were 102 cases and 207 controls included in the present study. Lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s was associated with higher mattress endotoxin load among female cases (beta=−0.25, SE=0.07 [P<0.01]). There was a trend toward lower forced vital capacity, which was associated with higher play area endotoxin load among cases with high tobacco smoke exposure (beta=−0.17, SE=0.09 [P<0.10]).
CONCLUSIONS:
Findings indicated that high endotoxin levels present in common household areas of rural children with asthma or wheeze may also affect their lung function. These associations may be potentiated by tobacco smoke exposure and female sex.
PMCID: PMC3267627  PMID: 22187693
Asthma; Endotoxin; Lung function; Rural; Tobacco smoke; Wheeze
23.  In Utero Exposure to Maternal Tobacco Smoke and Subsequent Obesity, Hypertension, and Gestational Diabetes Among Women in The MoBa Cohort 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;120(3):355-360.
Background: Environmental factors influencing the developmental origins of health and disease need to be identified and investigated. In utero exposure to tobacco smoke has been associated with obesity and a small increase in blood pressure in children; however, whether there is a corresponding increased risk of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension during adulthood remains unclear.
Objective: Our goal was to assess the association of self-reported in utero exposure to tobacco smoke with the prevalence of obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in women 14–47 years of age.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which enrolled pregnant women in Norway from 1999 thorough 2008. Exposure to tobacco smoke in utero (yes vs. no) was ascertained on the baseline questionnaire (obtained at ~ 17 weeks’ gestation); the outcomes were ascertained from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway and the questionnaire. Our analysis included 74,023 women.
Results: Women exposed to tobacco smoke in utero had 1.53 times the odds of obesity [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.45, 1.61] relative to those unexposed, after adjusting for age, education, and personal smoking. After further adjustment for body mass index, the odds ratio for hypertension was 1.68 (95% CI: 1.19, 2.39); for T2DM 1.14 (95% CI: 0.79, 1.65); and for GDM 1.32 (95% CI: 1.10, 1.58) among exposed compared with unexposed.
Conclusions: Exposure to tobacco smoke in utero was associated with obesity, hypertension, and GDM in adult women. The possibility that the associations were attributable to unmeasured confounding cannot be excluded.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1103789
PMCID: PMC3295347  PMID: 22128036
diabetes mellitus; gestational diabetes; hypertension; in utero; maternal smoking; MoBa; obesity; tobacco smoke
24.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
Conclusions
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
25.  Early-life environmental risk factors for asthma: findings from the Children's Health Study. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(6):760-765.
Early-life experiences and environmental exposures have been associated with childhood asthma. To investigate further whether the timing of such experiences and exposures is associated with the occurrence of asthma by 5 years of age, we conducted a prevalence case-control study nested within the Children's Health Study, a population-based study of > 4,000 school-aged children in 12 southern California communities. Cases were defined as physician-diagnosed asthma by age 5, and controls were asthma-free at study entry, frequency-matched on age, sex, and community of residence and countermatched on in utero exposure to maternal smoking. Telephone interviews were conducted with mothers to collect additional exposure and asthma histories. Conditional logistic regression models were fitted to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Asthma diagnosis before 5 years of age was associated with exposures in the first year of life to wood or oil smoke, soot, or exhaust (OR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.02-2.96), cockroaches (OR = 2.03; 95% CI, 1.03-4.02), herbicides (OR = 4.58; 95% CI, 1.36-15.43), pesticides (OR = 2.39; 95% CI, 1.17-4.89), and farm crops, farm dust, or farm animals (OR = 1.88; 95% CI, 1.07-3.28). The ORs for herbicide, pesticide, farm animal, and crops were largest among children with early-onset persistent asthma. The risk of asthma decreased with an increasing number of siblings (ptrend = 0.01). Day care attendance within the first 4 months of life was positively associated with early-onset transient wheezing (OR = 2.42; 95% CI, 1.28-4.59). In conclusion, environmental exposures during the first year of life are associated with childhood asthma risk.
PMCID: PMC1241973  PMID: 15121522

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