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Fetal, Childhood Secondhand Smoke Can Spur Asthma

It may cause nearly one-quarter of adult cases, study finds

FRIDAY, July 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke in the womb or during childhood substantially increases the risk of developing asthma and respiratory symptoms during adulthood, according to a new Norwegian study.

The 11-year study included over 2,800 adults. Researchers compared the incidence of asthma and respiratory symptoms to the study participants' self-reported passive smoke exposure in the womb and during childhood.

Reporting in the current issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the Norwegian team believes that combined total exposure to passive smoke during childhood may have accounted for nearly 25 percent of adult asthma cases among the study participants. That suggests that nearly a quarter of adult asthma cases could be prevented if children were not exposed to passive smoking from parents and others in the home, they conclude.

The study authors also believe this is the first study to show that exposure to passive smoke in the womb or during childhood causes a lasting vulnerability to asthma or respiratory symptoms.

More information:

The American Lung Association has more about secondhand smoke.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, July 1, 2005
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