A new study links exposure to secondhand smoke early in life with food allergies. 

By Melissa Willets

As if we needed an additional reason to shield babies from secondhand smoke, there is a study being presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's annual meeting (and published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) suggesting a link between exposure to the nasty habit and potentially-dangerous food allergies in kids.

"Early life exposure to secondhand smoke is a well-established risk factor for asthma and, in some studies, for allergic sensitization and eczema in children," said study co-author Anna Bergstrom, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, adding about the significance of this newest research, "However, no studies have prospectively looked at its impact on the risk of pediatric food-related symptoms."

Researchers looked at 3,800 Swedish kids between 1994 and 1996, according to WebMD, and then monitored whether they showed signs of food allergies until age 16. They found that children whose parents smoked when they were 2 months old were more likely to develop signs of food allergies, especially to eggs and peanuts.

It's worth noting the tests simply looked at signs of food allergies, not that they were diagnosed, and that exposure to secondhand smoke showed a link to food allergies, not that it caused the symptoms.

Still, there are so many reasons that smoking around children is not advisable, to say the least. As Bergstrom suggests in her comments, we know exposure is linked to asthma and eczema in kids, and secondhand smoke still remains a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It doesn't seem like we need any more evidence that smoking and children just don't mix.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of four. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.


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