Secondhand Smoke and Children
The results of a recent Harvard School of Public Health study are showing a disturbing link between secondhand smoke and learning disabilities such as ADHD in children. The results were published in Pediatrics online in July 2011.
After analyzing the data taken from the 2007 National Survey on Children's Health, the results showed that secondhand smoke might be responsible for over 250,000 cases of ADHD in children, along with other neurobehavioral disorders in the United States.
The study focused on information on more than 50,000 children from birth to age 12 who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities. It was found that those who were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke were two times more likely to acquire a learning disability than those who were not.
It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million children in the U.S. under the age of 11 who are subjected to secondhand smoke on a regular basis.
It was found that:
- 8.2% of the children exposed to secondhand smoke have learning disabilities.
- 6% of the children exposed to secondhand smoke have ADHD.
While there is an apparent correlation, researchers have not determined as yet what the connection is. However, researchers estimate that 274,100 learning disability cases could have been avoided had the children not been exposed to secondhand smoke in the home.
Since children are still growing and their bodies are developing, this puts them at greater risk to detrimental elements in their environment. It is estimated that 4.8 million children in America live with smokers.
The results of another study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, MO, were released in March 2011. This study surveyed 165 kids, ranging in age from 8 to 13, regarding how they feel about smoking.
The results showed that:
- Children who felt that secondhand smoke is "gross" or "unpleasant" were less likely to become smokers later in life.
- However, the study also showed that the longer children are exposed, the less they believed that smoking is unpleasant.
Ever More Reasons to Quit Smoking
Most of those who smoke know that it is hazardous to their health and that secondhand smoke can be detrimental to the health of those around them. Not only can it cause breathing and allergy problems for those exposed to secondhand smoke, this recent research shows that it can also contribute to learning disabilities and neurobehavioral problems.
The message continues to be that adults need to protect their children from the effects of secondhand smoke by not smoking near their children, or to quit smoking, not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of everyone around them.