Prevalence of asthma and wheeze in relation to passive smoking in Japanese children

Keiko Tanaka, Yoshihiro Miyake, Masashi Arakawa, Satoshi Sasaki, Yukihiro Ohya
Annals of Epidemiology 2007, 17 (12): 1004-10

PURPOSE: Evidence remains inconclusive as to whether environmental tobacco smoke is a risk factor for allergic disorders in childhood. The present large-scale cross-sectional study examined the relationship between passive smoking at home and the prevalence of allergic disorders in Japanese schoolchildren.

METHODS: Study subjects were 23,044 children aged 6 to 15 years in Okinawa. Outcomes were based on diagnostic criteria from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. Adjustment was made for sex, age, region of residence, number of siblings, paternal and maternal history of asthma, atopic eczema, or allergic rhinitis, as well as paternal and maternal educational level.

RESULTS: The prevalence of wheeze, asthma, atopic eczema, and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in the previous 12 months was 10.7%, 7.6%, 6.8%, and 7.7%, respectively. Current heavy passive smoking and 7.0 or more pack-years of smoking in the household were independently related to an increased prevalence of wheeze and asthma, especially in children 6 to 10 years of age and children with a positive parental allergic history. There was no dose-response relationship between pack-years of smoking in the household and atopic eczema or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggested that environmental tobacco smoke might be associated with an increased prevalence of wheeze and asthma in Japanese children.

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