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Tobacco smoke exposure in early life and adolescence in relation to lung function

Jesse D Thacher, Erica S Schultz, Jenny Hallberg, et al.
Eur Respir J 2018;51:1702111.
doi: 10.1183/13993003.02111-2017

As is well-known, maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with undesirable health outcomes in the offspring. Less is known, however, about the long-term effects this may have on lung function, as well as related effects of second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure and adolescent smoking.

Dr Thacher and colleagues explored data collected in the BAMSE (Barn/Child, Allery, Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiology) study to understand the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy, SHS exposure during infancy or at 16 years, and adolescent smoking on lung function at 16 years.

Results showed that maternal smoking during pregnancy and adolescent smoking were associated with lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratios and increased peripheral airway resistances at 16 years. Such associations were not found in either SHS cohort. Although no significant interaction was observed between maternal smoking during pregnancy and adolescent smoking, those who were exposed to both demonstrated a more greatly reduced FEV1/FVC ratio of –2.5%.

Conclusions highlighted that exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy had significant associations with reduced lung function at 16 years. This suggests that perinatal exposure to tobacco smoke has a long-term effect on lung function that can persist until adolescence. In addition, the presence of reduced lung function in adolescent smokers highlights the short duration required for significant effects to appear.

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