SAN FRANCISCO — Children with severe asthma are 3.6 times more likely to have been exposed to tobacco smoking before birth — even without later exposure — than children with a mild form of the disease, according to a multicenter study led by researchers at University of California, San Francisco.
The prenatal exposure also was associated with three times the number of daily and night-time asthma symptoms later in the child's life, as well as nearly four times the number of asthma-related emergency room visits, even when the researchers controlled for other risk factors, such as current tobacco exposure, ethnicity and allergies.
The findings could have a direct impact on public health campaigns. In the United States alone, more than one in seven pregnant women smoke and the cost of asthma is estimated at $56 billion per year in premature deaths, health care and days missed from school and work.
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