Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in infancy is associated with increased risk of food allergy sensitization, says a new study published in Allergy online.

The risk of sensitization to food allergens lasts up to age 16 years, the study shows. The study included data from 3,316 children from birth through sixteen years of age. Repeated parental questionnaires assessed exposure rates and allergies.

Exposure to secondhand smoke in infancy increased food allergy risks by age 4, 8, and 16 years.

The exposure need not be before birth and in fact, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy showed no correlation with increased allergy risks for the child.

Exposure to secondhand smoke during infancy also correlated with other problems related to allergy. These included eczema, often associated with childhood allergy.

“SHS exposure in infancy appears to increase the risk of sensitization to food allergens up to age 16 years as well as eczema in combination with sensitization,” the authors write.

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