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Family History, Home Factors Boost Child's Risk of Wheezing

Parental smoking and exposure to house dust mites increase odds of respiratory symptoms

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children from families with a history of asthma have a higher risk of developing respiratory symptoms if they are also exposed to parental smoking or dust mite antigen, according to study findings published in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Sandra Kuiper, Ph.D., of the University of Maastricht in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study of 529 infants, of whom 221 had a positive family history of asthma. The children were followed up for the first two years of life.

The odds of respiratory symptoms were higher for infants from a family with a positive history of asthma compared with those from families with a negative history. For example, they had a 1.7-fold higher risk of expiratory wheezing and a 4.9-fold higher risk of croup. In this group, exposure to parental smoking increased the odds of ever wheezing 5.8-fold and attacks of wheezing 6.8-fold. Exposure to both parental smoking and dust mite antigen further increased the odds of ever wheezing (OR, 30.8 and 26.2, respectively).

Infants who had a family history who were breast-fed had a lower risk of tonsillitis and acute otitis media than formula-fed infants. "Extra attention should be given to stimulate mothers to breast-feed their children in case they cannot stop smoking," the authors conclude.

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