Second hand smoke linked to food allergies

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Parents really shouldn't need another reason to quit smoking, especially around their children. But, for those that do, the results of a new study might be just the catalyst they are looking. 

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows a link between smoking around children, and their development of potentially dangerous food allergies.

"Early life exposure to second-hand smoke is a well-established factor for asthma and, in some studies, for allergic sensitisation and eczema in children," said study author Anna Bergstrom of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

"However, no studies have prospectively looked at its impact on the risk of pediatric food-related symptoms."

The researchers studied almost 3800 Swedish children between 1994 and 1996, and watched the children for signs of food allergies until they were 16.

When the children turned 4, 8, and 16, the children were tested for immunoglobulin E (IgE) reactivity to certain food allergens. IgE is an antibody associated with allergic reactions and can be used to help healthcare professionals decide if a person has a specific allergy.

What they found was that children whose parents smoked when they were two months old were more likely to develop signs of food allergies, especially to eggs and peanuts.

So now we know that smoking around children can lead to an increased risk of asthma, eczema and food allergies, as well as being a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The bottom line is simple: smoking can be devastating for children. What more proof do we need to change this behaviour?