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Derm News: 2007.27(6)

The effects of maternal smoking on early mucosal immunity and sensitization at 12 months of age

Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 18(2):118-127
Paul Noakes, Angie Taylor, Jasmine Hale, Liza Breckler, Peter Richmond, Sunalene G. Devadason, Susan L. Prescott

With the dramatic rise in asthma and respiratory disease, there is an urgent need to determine the effects of common environmental exposures on early immune development. In this study, we examined the effects of maternal smoking as a major adverse exposure in early life, on mucosal immune function and allergen sensitization in the first year of life. A cohort of 60 smokers and 62 non-smokers was recruited in pregnancy, and followed prospectively at 3 and 12 months of age for saliva collection [for immunoglobulin (Ig) A measurements], urine collection (for cotinine levels) and clinical assessments (for allergy and infection history). Allergen skin-prick tests were also performed at 12 months of age. Specific IgA to common colonizing bacteria was measured on saliva samples, including pneumococcal polysaccharide (PS) serotype 14 and non-typeable Haemophilus influenza (NTHI) outer membrane protein 6 (OMP6). Eighty-two mothers and their infants completed the 12-month follow-up period - 56 in the maternal non-smoking group and 26 in the maternal smoking group. Maternal smoking was associated with significantly higher total infant salivary IgA at 12 months of age (p = 0.026), and more chronic upper respiratory tract symptoms (p = 0.012). However, there were no differences in the level of specific IgA antibodies to common colonizing bacteria (pneumococcal PS serotype 14 and NTHI OMP6). In general, the IgA levels at 12 months were higher in children who had more chest infections in the first year (Kendall's tau b, 0.282; p = 0.003). There was also a trend of lower respiratory tract symptoms (wheeze) (p = 0.142) in infants of smokers. There were no effects of maternal smoking on the rates of allergen sensitization, atopic dermatitis and food allergy at 12 months of age. In conclusion, maternal smoking did not inhibit the production of anti-microbial IgA, suggesting that other factors are responsible for the increased susceptibility to infection in these infants. The increased mucosal inflammation in these children was not associated with effects on early allergy propensity.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.