Professore Emerito, Dipartimento di Scienze della Riproduzione e dello Sviluppo, Università di Trieste
Key words: Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), Birthweight, SIDS, Respiratory infections, Asthma, Cancer, Preventive interventions
There is strong evidence that pre-natal exposure to tobacco smoke products increases the risk of low birth weight infants and reduces mean birth weight for gestational age by about 10%. Strong associations are also observed with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), with relative risks of 2-3-fold. Impaired early development and behaviour problems are more frequently observed in young children who have been exposed to ETS. Consistent associations and clear dose-response relations have been shown with childhood respiratory illnesses, particularly bronchitis, middle ear disease and adenoidectomy. The development of allergy and the likelihood of asthma are also increased by exposure to ETS, both during pregnancy and after birth. A few studies have observed associations with childhood cancer. Prevention of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is very important. Recent data show that these interventions can be effective and that prevalence of smoking among parents is decreasing
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