- by Dr Gowher Pebbles n Pearl Pediatrics and Child Care
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- Aug 12 2017
Does secondhand smoke cause mental health problems in kids?
(Source: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011; 165:332-338, 370-372)
Children and adolescents in the United States exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) are at risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and conduct disorder, new research suggests.
In a national survey study of more than 2000 nonsmokers between the ages of 8 and 15 years, investigators found that serum cotinine levels, signifying SHS exposure, were positively associated with symptoms of all these disorders — and were especially correlated for boys.
"Our results have important public health implications," write Frank C. Bandiera, MPH, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, Florida, and colleagues. "Given the critical developmental period of childhood and adolescence, the effects of policy to reduce or ban smoking in public places and in the home may help prevent or reduce the progression of illness in at-risk individuals and alleviate the heavy burden...attributable not only to tobacco use but also to mental disorders," they write.
In a recent study reported by Medscape Medical News, investigators from the United Kingdom found that a higher level of salivary cotinine was significantly associated with hyperactivity and conduct disorder in adolescents participating in the Scottish Health Survey. Although there was a significant association in males between cotinine level and MDD, GAD, ADHD, and conduct disorder symptoms, the association for females was only significant with symptoms of GAD.
Dr. Samet writes that there is now sufficient evidence of an association with poor health outcomes to "mandate reduction" of SHS exposure in public places. However, because these bans do not cover homes, clinicians "should motivate parents to protect their children, beginning with prenatal care and continuing during childhood," he opines. "Pediatricians and other healthcare providers can help eliminate exposure of infants and children to SHS, even while the evidence on mental health continues to evolve," concludes Dr. Samet.
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