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Avoiding Tobacco Smoke Helps Manage Childhood Asthma

Study supports efforts to educate parents about tobacco smoke's impact on their child's asthma

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Avoidance of environmental tobacco smoke can significantly reduce hospitalizations, emergency department visits and episodes of poor asthma control in children with the disease, according to research reported in the April issue of the journal Chest.

Lynn B. Gerald, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, conducted a trial in which 290 children with chronic asthma were randomized to receive usual care or supervised asthma therapy in which use of controller medication was observed at school and a 20-minute asthma education program was presented, including information on avoiding environmental tobacco smoke. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure data for each child was collected in telephone interviews of caregivers at baseline and one year later.

The children whose environmental tobacco smoke exposure decreased during the one-year study had reduced hospital admissions and emergency department visits compared to the year prior to the start of the study. Also, the children who decreased their environmental tobacco smoke exposure were 48 percent less likely to have an incident of poor asthma control, the researchers report.

"This is the first study to demonstrate an association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure reduction and fewer episodes of poor asthma control, respiratory-related emergency department visits, and hospitalizations. These findings emphasize the importance of environmental tobacco smoke exposure reduction as a mechanism to improve asthma control and morbidity. Potential policy implications include supporting environmental tobacco smoke reductions and smoking cessation interventions for parents and caregivers of children with asthma," the authors write.

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