Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure has been associated with adverse health outcomes in all stages of life. Embryogenesis is a particularly important period to study because exposures during this period can alter proper growth and development of all organs. ETS exposure to the developing fetus has been associated with low birth weight infants, premature births and sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, prenatal ETS exposure has been identified as a significant risk factor for the development of asthma in a number of epidemiologic studies. This review surveys the current literature available linking in utero ETS with the development of asthma, explores the role of nicotine as a possible causative agent involved in the pathogenesis of these findings, and examines the literature linking in utero ETS exposure with broader effects on airway physiology and response.
Keywords: Tobacco smoke, nicotine, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, asthma, lung development
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