Parental smoking and post-infancy wheezing in children: a prospective cohort study

Am J Public Health. 1989 Feb;79(2):168-71. doi: 10.2105/ajph.79.2.168.


The contribution of parental smoking to wheezing in children was studied in a subset of all British births between April 5 and 11, 1970 (N = 9,670). Children of smoking mothers had an 18.0 per cent cumulative incidence of post-infancy wheezing through 10 years of age, compared with 16.2 per cent among children of nonsmoking mothers (risk ratio 1.11, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.21). This difference was confined to wheezing attributed to wheezy bronchitis, of which children of smokers had 7.4 per cent, and those of nonsmokers had 5.2 per cent (risk ratio 1.44, 95% CI: 1.24, 1.68). The incidence of wheezy bronchitis increased as mothers smoked more cigarettes. After multiple logistic regression analysis was used to control for paternal smoking, social status, sex, family allergy, crowding, breast-feeding, gas cooking and heating, and bedroom dampness, the association of maternal smoking with childhood wheezy bronchitis persisted. Some of this effect was explained by maternal respiratory symptoms and maternal depression, but not by neonatal problems, the child's allergic symptoms, or paternal respiratory symptoms. There was a 14 per cent increase in childhood wheezy bronchitis when mothers smoked over four cigarettes per day, and a 49 per cent increase when mothers smoked over 14 cigarettes daily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Bronchitis / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mothers
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Sounds / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution