-- Alan Mozes
SATURDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- A mother's exposure to
tobacco smoke during the last three months of pregnancy may
increase the risk that her child will develop the allergic skin
condition eczema during infancy, a new study suggests.
The study authors pointed out that it is already known that
children whose mothers were exposed to tobacco smoke during
pregnancy are at a higher than normal risk for developing asthma or
respiratory infections. However, previous studies regarding the
relationship between smoke exposure and eczema risk came up with
To investigate the potential connection, the research team
focused on more than 1,400 infants between the ages of 2 months and
The children's families provided information on their history of
allergic diseases and the level of environmental tobacco smoke
exposure during pregnancy and thereafter. The investigators also
noted all cases of eczema, which is characterized by red, itchy
The team found that eczema rates were significantly higher among
children who had been exposed to smoke during their mother's third
trimester than among children who had no smoke exposure. No such
increase in eczema risk was observed among children whose mothers
were exposed to smoke during the first trimester. Similarly, no
increased risk was noted among infants exposed to smoke in the
first six months following birth and beyond.
"Tobacco smoke exposure during the third trimester seems to affect the development of the immune system in the offspring, which in turn facilitates development of eczema after birth," the study's senior author, Dr. Kenji Matsumoto, said in a news release from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "This also raises questions of whether or not tobacco smoke exposure may affect the innate immune responses of the skin."
Matsumoto and colleague Dr. Miwa Shinohara are scheduled to
present the study findings Saturday during a meeting of the
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Orlando,
Researchers note that the study does not show that smoke
exposure in the last trimester causes eczema, merely that an
association between the two was found.
Data and conclusions presented at medical meetings should be
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
For more on eczema, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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