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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 542983, 9 pages
Research Article

Foetal Exposure to Maternal Passive Smoking Is Associated with Childhood Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis, and Eczema

1Department of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
2School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
3Department of Health, The Government of The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong

Received 13 March 2012; Accepted 14 April 2012

Academic Editors: A. Ghaemmaghami and J. Pirhonen

Copyright © 2012 S. L. Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. We examined the hypothesis that foetal exposure to maternal passive smoking is associated with childhood asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema. Methods. The study was a population-based cross-sectional survey of Hong Kong Chinese children aged ≤14 years carried out in 2005 to 2006. Results. Foetal exposure to maternal passive smoking was significantly associated with wheeze ever (OR 2.05; 95% CI 1.58–2.67), current wheeze (OR 2.06; 95% CI 1.48–2.86), allergic rhinitis ever (OR 1.22; 95% CI 1.09–1.37), and eczema ever (OR 1.61; 95% CI 1.38–1.87). Foetal exposure to maternal active smoking was significantly associated with asthma ever (OR 2.10; 95% CI 1.14–3.84), wheeze ever (OR 2.46; 95% CI 1.27–4.78), and current wheeze (OR 2.74; 95% CI 1.24–6.01) but not with allergic rhinitis ever (OR 1.01; 95% CI 0.70–1.46) or eczema ever (OR 1.38; 95% CI 0.87–2.18). The dose response relationship between wheeze ever and current wheeze with increasing exposure, from no exposure to maternal passive smoking and then to maternal active smoking, further supports causality. Conclusion. There is significant association between foetal exposure to maternal passive smoking and maternal active smoking with childhood asthma and related atopic illnesses. Further studies are warranted to explore the potential causal relationship.