Household smoking and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in children with asthma

J Asthma. 2001 May;38(3):239-51. doi: 10.1081/jas-100000111.


This study investigated whether household environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure is associated with increased bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) in children with asthma. Two hundred forty-nine children, ages 7-11 years, sampled from a larger group with reported asthma or multiple asthma symptoms identified in a community survey in Cape Town, underwent histamine challenge testing and had urinary cotinine measured. Parents were interviewed for information on smoking habits and a variety of covariates. Children with asthma whose mothers smoked had a lower frequency of BHR than asthmatic children of nonsmoking mothers, particularly if the mother smoked > or = 15 cigarettes daily. BHR was also less common among children sharing a house with four or more smokers vs. fewer or none. BHR was unrelated to paternal smoking. In contrast, FEV1 was lower among children whose mothers currently smoked. The findings do not support a mechanism whereby ETS exposure aggravates existing childhood asthma by increasing BHR. This association may be masked, however, by the degree to which mothers of asthmatic children adjust their smoking. The results are consistent with an adverse effect of maternal smoking on lung function in asthmatic children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / etiology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Child
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Humans
  • Random Allocation
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sampling Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Cotinine