Smoke Cigarettes And Your Child Will Have Behaviour Problems

Behavior Problems in Children and Second-hand Smoke at Home

Children who come from households where second-hand smoke is present may have a greater risk of behavior and learning problems than kids from non-smoking homes, according to a new study which has appeared in the journal Pediatrics . The US study examined 55,000-plus children under the age of 12, of whom 6% came from a home with at least one smoker. That 6% were more likely than the others in the group to have been identified as having a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or a “conduct disorder”.

Hillel R. Alpert of Harvard School of Public Health, one of the researchers, explained that the study was designed to take other possible factors, such as parents’ incomes and education levels, into account, but that even allowing for such factors, second-hand smoke still correlated to increased risk of behavior difficulties. The study did not, he explained, prove that secondhand smoke exposure is the cause, since factors that were not accounted for could be having an effect.

For example, the study gathered no information about mothers’ smoking while pregant with the children. Maternal smoking during pregancy has been related to higher risk of learning and behavioral problems. Another consideration is that smoking parents may be more likely to have the same kind of problems themselves.

Second-hand smoke has already been identified by health experts as causing higher risk of respiratory ailments like asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as sudden infant death syndrome. They advise parents to protect their children from exposure. Alpert said his team’s results may give parents yet another reason to shield their kids..

The results arise from a broad survey conducted in 2007, questioning parents of over 55,000 children under 12 years. The 6% of parents reporting that a smoker was in the household, extrapolated out to the population as a whole, means that almost 5 million U.S. children experience second-hand smoke in their homes. About 20% of the parents in the smoking group were more likely to report learning problems, ADHD, or conduct disorder (antisocial, aggressive behavior) in their kids, compared to less than 9% of parents in the non-smoking group..

After accounting for race, poverty, maternal education level and other possible contributors, the results showed that second-hand smoked linked to a 51% higher risk of the child suffering one of these disorders.

The study had limitations, like its reliance on parental reporting, that were acknowledged by the researchers. It also did not address the scientific problem of how second-hand tobacco smoke might be bringing on these problems. One speculation is that the smoke may interact with chemicals in the immature, developing brain.

Alpert stated that, whatever the causative factors behind his team’s findings may be, the results reinforce the urgent message to protect kids. “We still have 5 million children exposed to second-hand smoke at home,” he said. “A lot of progress has been made in reducing that number, but there’s still a lot left to be done.”

In the same journal, another study suggests a relationship between children’s attitudes toward their parents’ second-hand smoke and the probability of becoming smokers themselves. The project studied 165 preteens from poor households with smokers. The kids who considered secondhand smoke “unpleasant or gross” had 78% less high-risk attitudes for taking up smoking.

The study did not follow the kids to see if they did become smokers or not, but recorded their current opinions about whether they wanted to try it later in life. The researchers wrote that the results suggest that there’s a relationship between children’s level of sensitivity (or lack of sensitivity) to secondhand smoke and their risk for becoming smokers later on.

SOURCE: bit.ly/okML5i and bit.ly/oV5bDJ Pediatrics, online July 11, 2011.

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