Background: The understanding of the role of smoking exposure in the induction of wheezing and asthma in children is important for prevention.
Methods: A systematic review of literature and a meta-analysis were conducted to identify studies on unselected prospective birth cohorts. The effect of exposure to maternal/parental smoking on the induction of current wheezing or asthma was evaluated in children aged 6 months, <6 years, and ≥6 years. Pooled odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated.
Results: We identified 43 papers. Exposure to maternal prenatal smoking was associated with an increased risk of wheezing in <6-year-olds (OR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.19-1.55) and of wheezing or asthma in ≥6-year-olds (OR: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.03-1.44). A positive association (OR: 1.24, 95% CI: 1.11-1.38) was also found in the only three studies that evaluated exposure to maternal prenatal smoking alone. Postnatal exposures to maternal/parental smoking were associated with wheezing in <6-year-olds (OR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.13-1.31 and OR: 1.30; 95% CI: 1.13-1.51), although it was often impossible to separate the role of postnatal from that of prenatal exposure; data in schoolchildren are limited and this precluded a meta-analysis. No clear association was found between exclusive postnatal exposure and wheezing or asthma.
Conclusions: We confirmed an important role of prenatal exposure to maternal smoking on the induction of wheezing and asthma in offspring, particularly in the first years of life. More studies with a consistent number of subjects only exposed to smoke postnatally are needed to better investigate the harmful effects on the induction of wheezing or asthma, particularly in schoolchildren.
Keywords: adolescent; child; respiratory tract diseases; tobacco smoke pollution.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.