Pregnant Women Beware: Smoke Exposure May Cause Infant Skin Condition

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Exposure during the third trimester of pregnancy has link to infant eczema according to research from the 2012 AAAAI Annual Meeting.

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“Tobacco smoke exposure during the third trimester seems to affect the development of the immune system in the offspring, which in turn facilitates development of eczema after birth,” according to the senior author Kenji Matsumoto, MD, PhD.

While it is known that tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy influences the risk of the infant to develop asthma or a respiratory infection, new research shows it can also affect the development of an allergic skin condition like eczema. An abstract from the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) suggests that smoke exposure during the third trimester of pregnancy may have the strongest impact on increasing the development of eczema after birth.

“A recent study demonstrated that environmental tobacco smoke exposure was significantly associated with an increased rate of eczema in the offspring, whereas another study found no association. We wanted to see whether a particular trimester might be associated with an increased occurrence of eczema in the offspring,” said first author Miwa Shinohara, MD, PhD.

The researchers enrolled a sample of 1,436 infants between the age of two and 18 months. Questionnaires were given to gather family history of allergic diseases, number of older siblings, the mother’s tobacco smoke exposure during and after pregnancy and the development of eczema as diagnosed by a physician.

The rate of eczema was significantly increased in the infants who had been exposed to tobacco smoke during the third trimester versus the infants who had no exposure. There were no significant differences in the incidence of eczema between the infants with no tobacco smoke exposure and those with exposure during the first trimester, during the first 6 months after birth and even those with exposure beyond those first 6 months.

“Tobacco smoke exposure during the third trimester seems to affect the development of the immune system in the offspring, which in turn facilitates development of eczema after birth,” according to the senior author Kenji Matsumoto, MD, PhD. “This also raises questions of whether or not tobacco smoke exposure may affect the innate immune responses of the skin.”

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.

Editorial notes:

  •     This study was presented during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) on March 2-6 in Orlando. However, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.
  •     A link to all abstracts presented at the Annual Meeting is available at http://www.annualmeeting.aaaai.org

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