The dangers of smoking near a child have been well-documented and now, a new study has revealed that exposure to tobacco smoke inside the home can increase their childhood illnesses.
Researchers analyzed 2011-2012 data from the National Survey on Children's Health, which is conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. They looked at patterns of health care utilization among children ranging in age from newborn to 17 who were living with smokers compared with those who not exposed to tobacco smoke at home.
Results showed a total of 24 percent of the 95,677 children in the study, corresponding to a weighted total of 17.6 million children across the United States, lived with smokers. About 5 percent of the children lived with someone who smokes inside the home, equivalent to a weighted sum of 3.6 million U.S. children.
Researchers said that children who lived with a smoker or who had exposure to tobacco smoke inside the home were significantly more likely to have had any medical care visit, including sick care. At the same time, researchers said, they were considerably less likely to have had any dental care visits.
Lead author Ashley Merianos of the University of Cincinnati said that settings with a high volume of children exposed to tobacco smoke at home, including pediatric emergency departments, could serve as effective outlets for health messages to inform caregivers about the dangers of smoking around children and help decrease these potentially preventable tobacco smoke exposure-related visits and associated costs.
The research is being presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting.