Up in secondhand smoke: kids’ behavior is influenced


Secondhand smoke at home is being tied to learning and behavioral problems for children under 12. Researchers looked at 55,000 children and discovered that 6% live in homes with a smoker. Those kids were more likely to have behavioral disorders and to be diagnosed with disorders like ADHD than their peers living in smoke-free homes. This was true even after discounting other influencing factors like parental education level and income.

The link is not causal. There could be other explanations for the increased occurrences. For instance, these children were probably exposed to secondhand smoke in utero. There could also be a genetic link having nothing to do with the smoking per se.

Doctors do know that children exposed to secondhand smoke have higher rates of respiratory infection and disease and therefore parents are advised to keep their children clear of smokers. “The key message for parents is t protect their children from exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Hillel R. Alpert of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Findings showed that parents who smoked were more likely to have children with ADHD diagnoses, a learning problem or “conduct disorder” where a child is often aggressive and antisocial. About 20% of smoking parents said their kids had one of these disorders compared to the 9% of nonsmoking parents who said the same.

There is no way to know why this happens and the study may be flawed as it relies heavily on parental input. Knowing this information however could help school officials and doctors identify potential problems and provide early intervention. It’s also one more reason people should quit smoking around children.

Source: Pediatrics, Reuters

photo by Nyboer Creative


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