Most of the world is well versed in the adverse effects of cigarette smoke, couple that with asthmatic children and you have a recipe for disaster. Asthmatic children who are exposed to cigarette smoke are more than likely to make repeat visits to the hospital for breathing problems research shows. But researchers say asking parent’s about kids’ smoke exposure may not provide the most reliable information.
In a recent study, saliva revealed exposure to tobacco smoke in roughly 80 percent of children brought to the hospital for asthma or breathing problems per Reuters. Unfortunately, only about a third of parents said their kids came in contact with smoke.
Finding evidence of nicotine, a main chemical found in tobacco, in children’s saliva was a better predictor of whether they would need to revisit the hospital, compared to the information parents provided 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.
Prior research has found that being exposed to tobacco can lead to poor asthma control and airway problems for children, Kahn and his colleagues wrote in the journal Pediatrics.
By determining which children are being exposed to tobacco, doctors may be able to help and identify and possibly eliminate the exposure, said Kahn, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.
If a parent is indeed smoking cigarettes and exposing their child to smoke, doctors can offer the parent tools to stop smoking while the child is hospitalized.
For the study, the researchers assessed data for 619 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for asthma and breathing problems between the dates of August 2010 and October 2010. The children’s ages ranged from one to 16 years old.
“The take-home message should always be that exposure to secondhand smoke for both adults and children is a significant health risk factor – particularly for children with asthma and respiratory disorders,” Kreindler said. “They should not be