Gene variants implicated in inflammation worsen risk in offspring from smoky households
Raul Lieberwirth/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
HOUSTON — Children born to mothers who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke during pregnancy face an elevated risk of eczema and other skin problems in childhood.
Elementary school children exposed to smoke in the womb were 50 percent more likely to have any history of atopic dermatitis than unexposed kids, scientists in South Korea found using blood tests and questionnaires about prenatal smoke exposure. Atopic dermatitis is a condition that includes eczema and scaly allergic rashes marked by dry, itchy skin.
Blood samples from 3,639 children ages 7 or 8 revealed that those carrying certain variant forms of genes that encode the immune proteins TNF-alpha and TLR-4 were even more prone to have atopic dermatitis if they had been exposed to household smoke in utero. Both variant forms had previously been implicated in inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn’s disease (the TNF-alpha variant) and rheumatoid arthritis (the TLR-4 variant).