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child-with-inhalerSmokers are not the only ones affected by the health risks of cigarette smoking. According the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” and is responsible for more than 42,000 deaths every year. Now, results of a new study show that infants and children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of developing allergic disease in adolescence and well into their teen years.

The 16-year study was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and involved nearly 4,000 children. Parents were asked about their smoking and lifestyle habits during and after pregnancy, and the children were monitored for symptoms of asthma, allergies and other conditions.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb had a 45% higher risk of developing asthma by the time they were 16 years old. Those exposed as infants or in adolescence had a 23% higher risk of developing asthma and were 18% more likely to develop allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages due to allergens). In addition, they had a 26% higher risk of developing eczema (red, itchy skin).

While the link between secondhand smoke exposure and allergic diseases in children is not a new one, this was among the first studies to show that the risk continues through adolescence and into the teenage years. Fetal exposure to secondhand smoke has also been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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invisible-universeWhen was the last time you thought about the 100 trillion bacterial cells living and working inside your body? Before you cringe at the thought, consider this: “In many ways you’re more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells…

So begins this cleverly illustrated (and fun to watch!) video about what scientists call the human microbiome. Aren’t you just the least bit curious about where all those bacteria come from and what they do? Or why your personal bacterial population is different from that of everyone else you meet? Perhaps even more intriguing is how our obsession with cleanliness is affecting our healthy gut microbes—and why probiotics may be able to help. Check it out!

Video Link: Exploring The Invisible Universe That Lives On Us—And In Us

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