Maternal atopic disease modifies effects of prenatal risk factors on exhaled nitric oxide in infants

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Aug 1;170(3):260-5. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200307-1002OC. Epub 2004 Apr 1.


In a prospective healthy birth cohort, we determined whether levels of exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) in healthy unselected infants at the age of 1 month were associated with maternal atopic disease and prenatal and early postnatal environmental exposures. Tidal eNO was measured in 98 healthy, unsedated infants (35 from mothers with atopy) (mean age +/- SD, 36.0 +/- 6.2 days) and was compared with histories taken in standardized interviews. eNO was higher in males compared with females (17.7 vs. 14.6 ppb, p = 0.042) and infants exposed to postnatal maternal smoking (+4.4 ppb, p = 0.027), adjusting for weight and tidal breathing parameters. Prenatal tobacco exposure was associated with higher eNO (+12.0 ppb, p = 0.01) in infants of mothers with asthma and lower eNO (-5.7 ppb) in infants of mothers without asthma (p for interaction < 0.0001). Coffee consumption in pregnancy decreased eNO (-6.0 ppb, p = 0.008) only in children of mothers with atopy (p for interaction = 0.015). Paternal atopy had no influence. In the early phase of immunologic development, before the onset of infections and allergic disease, the effect of prenatal or early postnatal environmental factors on eNO was modified by the presence of maternal atopic disease. This underlines the complex interaction of maternal and environmental factors in the development of airway disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Breath Tests*
  • Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Switzerland / epidemiology


  • Coffee
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Caffeine