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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Oct;6(5):312-6.

The effects of in-utero tobacco-toxin exposure on the respiratory system in children.

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School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Australia.



Promotion of cigarettes to children and women has resulted in unacceptably high rates of smoking during pregnancy in most developed countries and the potential to greatly increase smoking by mothers in developing countries. The risks of smoking during pregnancy to mothers and unborn children are well known and include growth retardation, respiratory diseases and sudden infant death syndrome. Determining the effects of exposure on the fetus depends upon accurate assessment of maternal smoking, both active and involuntary, and this can be done using self-reports and a variety of biomarkers in the mother and/or newborn.


The evidence is clear that most of the excess respiratory morbidity in children born to smoking mothers is due to in-utero exposure and that deficits in lung function measured soon after birth persist in children and adults. Recent studies have also indicated that some children are genetically predisposed to adverse outcomes in response to in-utero exposure.


Although many women attempt to quit during pregnancy and effective interventions are available, ultimately the respiratory health of future generations will depend upon effective public health and tobacco control measures designed to prevent smoking uptake by youth and in particular girls and young women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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