Secondhand smoke increases hospital admissions for all types of infectious diseases

May 28, 2008

Children exposed to second hand tobacco smoke are more likely to get severe infectious diseases and have to be admitted to hospital, finds research published online ahead of print in Tobacco Control.

These children are at greater risk of a whole range of infectious illnesses, such as meningococcal disease, and not just respiratory illness, the results showed. Exposure to smoke in the first few months of life did the most harm, especially if they had a low birth weight or had been born prematurely.

The researchers assessed the relationship between second hand smoke exposure and first admission to hospital for any infectious illness for 7,402 children born in Hong Kong in April and May 1997. The children were followed until they were eight.

Children who lived in the household of someone who smoked within three metres of them during their first few months of life were the most at risk of being admitted to hospital with one in three admitted by the age of 12 months.

The earlier the exposure to smoke the more profound the effect with exposure to second hand smoke during the first six months of life increasing the likelihood of being admitted to hospital for an infectious disease during the eight years by almost 45 per cent.

More vulnerable infants were also at increased risk of hospitalisation with those born with a low birth weight being 75 per cent more likely to be admitted to hospital with an infectious disease during the eight years and those who were premature being twice as likely.

The authors suggest that second hand smoke might affect the immune as well as the respiratory system of young children. “An excess risk of severe morbidity from both respiratory and other infections for all infants exposed to second hand smoke suggests that such exposure, as well as acting via direct contact with the respiratory tract, may also affect the immune system,” they say.

They add that premature infants and those with a low birth rate might be more at risk because their respiratory and immune systems were less well developed.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: What doctors say to LGBT teens matters

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bird brains more precise than humans'

20 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —Birds have been found to display superior judgement of their body width compared to humans, in research to help design autonomous aircraft navigation systems.

Recommended for you

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Less than half of all Americans got a flu shot last year, so U.S. health officials on Thursday urged that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the coming flu season. "It's really unfortunate ...

User comments : 0