Effects in Infants from Tobacco Smoke, Mold, and Older Siblings

Article excerpt

Many environmental exposures have been confirmed to affect children's respiratory health, but few have been studied in very young children. Now NIEHS grantees Grace K. LeMasters, Jocelyn M. Biagini, and their colleagues at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center demonstrate for the first time the relationship between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and allergy in infants.

About one-fifth of all American adults smoke cigarettes, resulting in about 43% of children being exposed to ETS at home. ETS exposure, along with mold exposure, has been documented as a risk factor for health problems such as wheezing, asthma, and otitis media in both children and adults.

In the current study, the researchers observed the effects of ETS and indoor mold exposure on the development of rhinitis and symptoms such as nasal blockage, sneezing, and nasal itching in a cohort of 633 infants under the age of 1 enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergen and Air Pollution Study. They used interviewer-administered questionnaires to collect demographics and information on smoking habits, family health history, and other covariates. They also analyzed any upper respiratory symptoms of the infants recorded by the parents in a monthly diary. In addition, they performed a skin-prick test on the parents and the infants (at approximately 12 months of age) to test for sensitivity to at least 1 of 15 airborne allergens. …