We studied the relationship of serum IgE levels and eosinophil counts with passive smoking in 9-year-old, nonselected children from three Italian towns near Rome. Male children of smoking parents had a significantly higher total count and percentage of eosinophils (p=0.008) and higher IgE levels (p=0.01) than male children of nonsmoking parents. Prevalence of eosinophilia (defined as ≥4% of total white blood cell count) was significantly correlated with the number of cigarettes smoked by parents among boys (p=0.003) but not among girls (p=0.20). There was a significant trend (p=0.008) for prevalence of eosinophilia to increase with increasing levels of serum IgE. For any given level of serum IgE, the frequency of eosinophilia was higher among children of smoking parents than among children of nonsmoking parents. When parental smoking was studied in a multivariable analysis and after controlling for the other variable, it was still significantly associated with eosinophilia in the children of these smoking parents but not with serum IgE levels. We conclude that parental smoking is associated with a significant enhancement of the expression of the most important markers of allergic sensitization in the children of smoking parents. This is particularly evident for boys and may explain, at least in part, the increased frequency of respiratory symptoms in children of smoking parents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy