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As Children Age, Smoking by Adults in Home More Likely

Asthma risk increase seen in all age groups, while recurrent ear infection risk higher in teens

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- As children age, their family members are more likely to smoke inside the home, and older children are more likely to have recurrent ear infections if someone smokes inside the home, according to a study published online Dec. 8 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Summer S. Hawkins, Ph.D., and Lisa Berkman, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., analyzed data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health on tobacco use among 90,961 parents of children aged 0 to 17 years. The parents also reported separately on asthma or recurrent ear infection diagnoses among their children.

Compared to parents of younger children (aged 0 to 5), the researchers found that parents of older children were more likely to report smoking in the house (odds ratios [ORs], 1.97 for children aged 6 to 11 and 2.93 for children aged 12 to 17). Exposure to secondhand smoke was higher for disadvantaged children and also varied by race/ethnicity. Compared to white children, the highest exposure occurred among African-American children (OR, 1.75) and was lowest among Hispanic children (OR, 0.25). All children were more likely to ever have asthma if someone in the home used tobacco. For younger children, recurrent ear infections were not increased with household tobacco use, but they were increased for 12- to 17-year-olds (OR, 1.67).

"Family members are increasingly likely to smoke indoors as children age, which may increase adolescents' vulnerability to ear infections. Parents and health professionals should monitor secondhand smoke exposure at home and encourage a smoke-free environment," the authors write.

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