Parents, take note! Children who live with smokers fall ill more often than those not exposed to tobacco smoke, according to new research.
Researchers from University of Cincinnati in the US analysed 2011-2012 data from the National Survey on Children’s Health.
They looked at patterns of health care utilisation among children ranging in age from newborn to 17 who were living with smokers compared with those not exposed to tobacco smoke at home.
Results showed a total of 24 per cent of the 95,677 children in the study, corresponding to a weighted total of 17.6 million children across the US, lived with smokers, researchers said.
About 5 per cent of the children lived with someone who smokes inside the home, equivalent to a weighted sum of 3.6 million US children, they said.
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 that they were considerably less likely to have had any dental care visits.
Several previous studies already established that tobacco smoke causes physical health consequences in children, including respiratory symptoms, increased infections and asthma flare-up, researchers said.
Fewer studies had examined whether tobacco smoke exposure translates into more frequent paediatric health care visits, they said.
“Our findings indicate that tobacco smoke exposure has a significant impact on demand for health care services,” said Ashley Merianos from University of Cincinnati.
“Settings with a high volume of children exposed to tobacco smoke at home, including paediatric 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,” said Merianos.