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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2014 Nov-Dec;35(6):454-61. doi: 10.2500/aap.2014.35.3789.

Smoke exposure as a risk factor for asthma in childhood: a review of current evidence.

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1Department of Science for Health Promotion and Mother and Child, Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy.


Asthma is a common chronic multifactorial disease that affects >300 million people worldwide. Outdoor and indoor pollution exposure has been associated with respiratory health effects in adults and children. Smoking still represents a huge public health problem and millions of children suffer the detrimental effects of passive smoke exposure. This study was designed to review the current evidences on exposure to passive smoke as a risk factor for asthma onset in childhood. A review of the most recent studies on this topic was undertaken to provide evidence about the magnitude of the effect of passive smoking on the risk of incidence of asthma in children. The effects of passive smoking are different depending on individual and environmental factors. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is one of the most important indoor air pollutants and can interact with other air pollutants in eliciting respiratory outcomes during childhood. The increased risk of respiratory outcomes in children exposed to prenatal and early postnatal passive smoke might be caused by an adverse effect on both the immune system and the structural and functional development of the lung; this may explain the subsequent increased risk of incident asthma. The magnitude of the exposure is quite difficult to precisely quantify because it is significantly influenced by the child's daily activities. Because exposure to ETS is a likely cause for asthma onset in childhood, there is a strong need to prevent infants and children from breathing air contaminated with tobacco smoke.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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