We studied the relationship between parental smoking habits and atopy and bronchial responsiveness (BR) in 9-year-old, non-selected schoolchildren. A questionnaire on respiratory disease and maternal and paternal smoking habits was administered to one parent. Skin prick tests using the most common allergens present in central Italy, a flow-volume spirometric test, and a bronchial provocation test using carbachol in increasing doses were performed. Male children with smoking parents had significantly increased BR when compared to those whose parents did not smoke (Odds Ratio (OR) = 4.3, p = 0.009). No such significant increase in BR was found in female children of smoking parents (OR = 1.5, p = 0.4). The relationship between BR in children and smoking in parents was stronger in asthmatics (p = 0.02), but was still significant after controlling for asthma and atopy. Bronchial responsiveness was significantly correlated with atopy (p = 0.001). This was also true for nonasthmatic children and for both males and females separately. Male children of smoking parents had increased reactivity to allergens as assessed by the skin prick test index (p = 0.001). It is hypothesized that passive smoking, by increasing the frequency of BR and of atopy, may increase the risk of asthma in childhood and particularly in boys.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine