Passive smoking appears to be linked to childhood food allergy

A new study has shown children exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke in the first few weeks of life are more likely to develop food allergies.

Researchers followed the health of almost 3,800 Swedish children born between 1994 and 1996 until they were 16 years old. Parents were surveyed when their children were 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 16 years-old to determine if the children showed any allergy-like symptoms to specific foods. When the children turned 4, 8 and 16, they were also tested for immunoglobulin E (IgE) reactivity to certain food allergens.

Children whose parents self-reported that they smoked when their child was about two months old were more likely to develop food-related symptoms in childhood. Secondhand smoke significantly increased the odds of IgE-associated symptoms to egg and peanut which the researchers state is likely to reflect a clinical food allergy.

The study did not investigate the relationship between the exposure to secondhand smoke and food allergies but only showed a link between these two factors.

The findings were presented at the 2017 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Annual Meeting held in Atlanta, USA.

The full media release about the presentation of these results at the meeting can be accessed on the AAAAI Annual meeting website.