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Stop-smoking

05 September 2011

More sick days for kids who live with smokers

Children who live in households where they are exposed to tobacco smoke miss more days of school than children living in smoke-free homes.

Children who live in households where they are exposed to tobacco smoke miss more days of school than children living in smoke-free homes, a new nationwide study confirms. The report from investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US – which finds these children have higher rates of respiratory illnesses that can be caused by second-hand smoke and details the probable economic costs of their increased school absence – has been published in the online edition of Pediatrics.

The authors note that one-third of US children live with at least one smoker, and more than half of those aged 3 to 11 have detectable levels of a blood marker for tobacco exposure. Second-hand smoking has been shown to increase incidence of ear infections and several respiratory conditions, and school absenteeism is an accessible measure of serious illness in children. Earlier studies of the relationship between lost school days and household smoking have focused on local populations and did not evaluate the severity of the problem's impact. The MGH team analysed data from the 2005 National Health Interview Study, an annual in-person survey of representative households nationwide.

  • how many people smoked inside the home
  • how many school days the child missed due to illness or injury during the previous year
  • whether the child had three or more ear infections during the previous year
  • whether the child had a chest cold or gastrointestinal illness during the preceding two weeks
  • whether the child had been diagnosed with asthma, and if so, whether the child had any recent asthma attacks

 

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