Exposure to indoor air pollution, tobacco smoke early in life increases risk of respiratory illness in children


Newborn infants exposed to indoor air pollution and tobacco smoke are at risk of developing lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing, according to a study published in Lancet Planterary Health. The longitudinal birth cohort study, conducted on mothers and infants in Paarl, South Africa, also revealed that newborns who were exposed to smoke – either from their mothers or a family member – before birth are also associated with an increased risk of wheezing.

  • For the study, researchers looked at 1,137 mothers with 1,143 live births. The infants were observed during their first year of life.
  • To measure for indoor air pollution, the team installed devices that record certain compounds present in air pollution. This included particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds benzene and toluene. Measurements were done before and after the baby was born.
  • Based on the results, of the 1,065 babies who went to at least one study visit, 524 newborns experienced LRTI in their first year. This was linked to exposure to maternal smoking or particulate matter before they were born.
  • Moreover, cases of LRTI that needed hospitalization and supplemental oxygen was associated with toluene exposure prior to birth.
  • Maternal smoking and passive smoke exposure were also linked to cases of wheezing. Infants who showed wheezing symptoms had mothers who smoked before and after they gave birth. Wheezing in babies was also linked to the mothers’ exposure to passive smoking.

The study supported evidence that exposure to indoor pollution and tobacco smoke can cause childhood lower respiratory tract illness or wheezing.

Find the full text of the study at this link.

JOURNAL REFERENCE:

Vanker A, Barnett W, Workman L, Nduru PM, Sly PD, Gie RP, Zar HJ. EARLY-LIFE EXPOSURE TO INDOOR AIR POLLUTION OR TOBACCO SMOKE AND LOWER RESPIRATORY TRACT ILLNESS AND WHEEZING IN AFRICAN INFANTS: A LONGITUDINAL BIRTH COHORT STUDY. The Lancet Planetary Health. November 2017;1(8). e328-e-326. DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(17)30134-1



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