April 11, 2011
1 min read

Smoke exposure linked to low birth weights, increased asthma risk

Bjerg A. Pediatrics. 2011;127:e905-e912.

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Prenatal smoke exposure increases the risk for low birth weight in children and may contribute to asthma and airway inflammation in these children after birth, according to a study published online.

Anders Bjerg, MD, PhD, of Sunderby Central Hospital in Sweden, and colleagues reported on results of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood survey conducted in 1996. Their research focused on 3,389 children who were available 4 years after the initial survey.

The researchers said babies who had been exposed to prenatal smoking had an average birth weight of 3,360 g vs. a weight of 3,571 g for those babies who had not been exposed to prenatal smoking. Asthma rates were increased by four to six times in children who had low birth weights and were exposed to prenatal smoking.

Bjerg and colleagues said this is the first study to “identify a strong interaction between prenatal smoke exposure and low birth weight on physician-diagnosed asthma in school children. The significant augmentation of low birth weight on the association between prenatal smoking and physician-diagnosed asthma could not be explained by confounding.”

They said their findings also indicate that low birth weight itself may contribute to decreased lung function, but the smoking additives may increase asthma risk.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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