Prenatal particulate matter/tobacco smoke increases infants' respiratory infections: COCOA study

The COCOA Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate whether prenatal exposure to indoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) affects susceptibility to respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in infancy, to compare their effects between prenatal and postnatal exposure, and to determine whether genetic factors modify these environmental effects. Methods: The study population consisted of 307 birth cohort infants. A diagnosis of RTIs was based on parental report of a physician's diagnosis. Indoor PM2.5 and ETS levels were measured during pregnancy and infancy. TaqMan was used for genotyping of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (Nrf2) (rs6726395), glutathione-S-transferase-pi (GSTP) 1 (rs1695), and glutathione-S-transferase-mu (GSTM) 1. Microarrays were used for genome-wide methylation analysis. Results: Prenatal exposure to indoor PM2.5 increased the susceptibility of lower RTIs (LRTIs) in infancy (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=2.11). In terms of combined exposure to both indoor PM2.5 and ETS, prenatal exposure to both pollutants increased susceptibility to LRTIs (aOR=6.56); however, this association was not found for postnatal exposure. The Nrf2 GG (aOR=23.69), GSTM1 null (aOR=8.18), and GSTP1 AG or GG (aOR=7.37) genotypes increased the combined LRTIs-promoting effects of prenatal exposure to the 2 indoor pollutants. Such effects of prenatal indoor PM2.5 and ETS exposure were not found for upper RTIs. Conclusions: Prenatal exposure to both indoor PM2.5 and ETS may increase susceptibility to LRTIs. This effect can be modified by polymorphisms in reactive oxygen species-related genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
JournalAllergy, Asthma and Immunology Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Methylation
  • Particulate matter
  • Polymorphism
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Tobacco smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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