Second-Hand Smoke Linked to Poor Mental Health in Children

Added by on December 12, 2010

Children whose parents smoke at home are more likely to suffer poor mental health, a new study says.

Findings of a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, suggest that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to show signs of hyperactivity and “bad” behaviour.

The British study looked at 901 non-smoking children between 4 and 8 years old and determined their level of smoke exposure by measuring by-products of cigarettes in their saliva. Parents were asked to answer questions about any emotional, behavioural or social problems their child may experience.

Children with the highest exposure to smoke reported a 44 per cent higher score on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire – a 40 point scale where high scores represent poor mental health – than those with the least smoke exposure, 9.2 versus 6.4 on the scale.

The difference remained after accounting for other factors such as asthma, physical activity, income and housing situation. However, it remains unclear whether it is the smoke itself or different factors that cause the problems, said Mark Hamer at University College London who led the research.

“We know that exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with a lot of physical health problems in children, although the mental health side has not been explored,” he told Reuters Health.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, two in three children between three and 11 years old are exposed to second-hand smoke. One in every five in the nine to 17 age groups has been diagnosed with some type of mental or addictive disorder.

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