Monday, March 17th, 2014
Pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke face a higher risk of suffering a miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal death–as high a risk, in fact, as if the women had smoked during pregnancy themselves. More from Reuters on a new study published in the journal Tobacco Control:
“We often think of the diseases that secondhand smoke causes as diseases of older people,” epidemiologist Andrew Hyland told Reuters Health. “The results of this study show that secondhand smoke can affect even unborn babies.”
Hyland led the study at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. He and his colleagues found the pregnancy risks associated with women’s secondhand smoke exposure were almost as high as the risks related to their own cigarette smoking.
The study was the first to investigate the effects of secondhand smoke using quantified, lifetime exposure levels. The analysis arms clinicians like Dr. Maurice Druzin, from Stanford University Medical Center in California, with facts to try to persuade expectant fathers and others living with pregnant women to refrain from smoking at home.
“This is excellent ammunition for us to emphasize what we’ve known for a long time, but now we’ve got data to support it,” Druzin, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health.
“This is the first study that shows that secondhand smoke has the same effect as being a primary smoker,” he said. “That is a game changer.”
Hyland’s team used data from a study of 80,762 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years old. Researchers asked the women about their own smoking and the amount of secondhand smoke they were exposed to as children and adults, as well as about their history of pregnancy problems.
Among women who never smoked themselves, the chances of having a stillbirth were 22 percent higher for those who were exposed to any tobacco smoke than for unexposed women. That was after the researchers took into account other potential contributors, including women’s weight, education and alcohol drinking.
For women who were exposed to the highest lifelong levels of secondhand smoke, the risk of having a stillbirth was even greater – 55 percent higher than among unexposed women.
The researchers defined the highest level of exposure to secondhand smoke as at least 10 years of exposure during childhood, at least 20 years during adulthood and at least 10 years in the workplace.
At that level, a woman’s risk of a tubal ectopic pregnancy was 61 percent higher than among unexposed women, and her risk of a miscarriage was 17 percent higher.
“We’re not talking about an elevated risk of a rare event,” Hyland said of the miscarriage finding. “We’re talking about something that happens all the time.”
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Image: Man smoking near pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Citing research on the health risks children face due to consistent exposure to second-hand smoke, British politicians have approved legislation that would prohibit adults from smoking in cars where children travel. More from Reuters:
The move comes after lobbying from health campaigners and the opposition Labour party, who cited research showing that smoking in cars exposed children to more concentrated smoke and caused health problems.
The government confirmed it would seek to implement a ban before an election in May next year, after lawmakers voted on Monday to give ministers the power to bring in the measure.
“The intention is for the secondary regulations to be in force ahead of May 2015,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said on Tuesday. “There is a particular issue around vehicles being a particularly confined space and the associated public health concerns.”
The ban has been criticized by some parliamentarians and lobbyists as an intrusion on individual freedoms.
Last year, Massachusetts considered legislation to ban smoking in cars where children travel, and committees are still debating the measure.
Image: Adult smoking in a car, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Being around people who smoke is dangerous for children diagnosed with asthma, but many times parents are hesitant to reveal to doctors the extent of their kids’ exposure to cigarette smoke. A new saliva-based test conducted on children admitted to the hospital for asthma-related issues confirms researchers’ suspicions–nearly 80 percent of the children’s saliva showed traces of cigarette smoke, but only a third of the parents had reported known cigarette exposure. More from Reuters:
What’s more, finding evidence of nicotine, a chemical in tobacco, in children’s saliva was a better predictor of whether they would need to come back to the hospital, compared to the information parents gave to doctors.
“We think saliva is a good and potentially useful test for assessing an important trigger for asthma,” Dr. Robert Kahn, the study’s senior author, told Reuters Health.
Previous research has found that being exposed to tobacco can lead to airway problems and poor asthma control among children, Kahn and his colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.
By figuring out which children are being exposed to tobacco, doctors may be able to step in and identify and possibly eliminate the exposure, said Kahn, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.
For example, if a parent is still smoking cigarettes and exposing the child to smoke, doctors can offer the parent smoking cessation tools while the child is hospitalized.
For the new study, the researchers assessed data from 619 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for asthma or other breathing problems between August 2010 and October 2011. The children were between one and 16 years old.
Image: Asthmatic child, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Legislation that would ban adults from smoking in cars where children in car seats are riding, nicknamed the “Little Lungs” bill, is under consideration in Massachusetts. The website Wicked Local has the story:
Rep. Paul Heroux, a freshman representative from Attleboro, wants to make it illegal to smoke with children in the car, citing health risks from secondhand smoke. Heroux said the proposed law could be enforced in a manner similar to the law banning texting while driving.
“If an officer sees it, you are busted,” Heroux said after testifying Tuesday on his legislation (H 1984), dubbed “an act to protect little lungs” and cosponsored by Reps. Mary Keefe, D-Worcester; Thomas Sannicandro, D-Ashland; and Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge.
Any driver or passenger who violates the law would be subject to a $100 fine. Police officers would not be able to search or inspect a motor vehicle, or its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because the vehicle was pulled over for the smoking violation, according to the legislation, which would apply to vehicles including children who are required to be secured by a child passenger restraint.
Heroux acknowledged his proposal would not be easy to enforce but said he hopes it would make smokers think twice before lighting up with children in the car.
Heroux also said a smoking ban when children are in the car would raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which led the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney to pass a 2004 law banning smoking in most workplaces.
Image: Cigarettes and pacifier, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
A new study finds that kids exposed to second-hand smoke at home get sick and miss school more often than children who live in nonsmoking homes, CNN.com reports.
Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that children who live with one or more smokers missed an average of one to two days more per school year than other kids. Living with multiple smokers led to more illnesses and more school days missed, researchers said. From CNN:
The research suggests that families could reduce absenteeism by 24 to 34 % if smoking was eliminated from their households.
According to the study, about one third of children in the United States live with a smoker. Among children aged 3 to 11, at least 56% have detectable levels of a chemical called serum cotinine, an indication of tobacco smoke exposure. Cotinine is a breakdown of nicotine and can be measured by analyzing levels in the blood, urine or saliva. Researchers say this establishes a link between household smoking and two specific respiratory illnesses.
“Kids living with people smoking in the home were more likely to have ear infections and chest colds,” Dr. Douglas Levy, the study’s principal investigator and Assistant in Health Care Policy at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy said. “Among kids who were living with smokers, a quarter to one-third of the days they missed from school can be attributed to the fact that they live with someone who smokes in the home.”
Levy also pointed out that second-hand smoke creates a financial burden for parents who must miss work to stay home with sick kids. “When kids are home from school, particularly young kids, the cost overall is $227 million dollars [in lost pay] per year,” Levy told CNN.
(image via: http://wtaq.com)
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