Secondhand Smoke Linked to ADHD

In addition to the many adverse health reactions caused by <"">secondhand smoke, it seems that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes are likelier to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), versus children raised in nonsmoking homes, according to an emerging study that will appear in the journal, Pediatrics.

The new study found that children exposed to at-home secondhand smoke were likelier to exhibit learning and behavioral problems as well as learning disabilities and so-called “conduct disorders,” reported Reuters. Of the over 55,000 children in the United States under the age of 12, 6 percent reportedly live with a smoker. The findings accounted for other explanations including parents’ salaries and academic levels, said Reuters.

Secondhand smoke was associated with increased risks for behavioral problems, according to researcher Hillel R. Alpert of the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote Reuters. The study did not consider mothers smoking during pregnancy, which has been linked to similar issues, noted Reuters. Likewise, parents who smoke could potentially have similar histories of learning or behavioral problems versus nonsmokers.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America, is linked to some 443,000 fatalities and $100 billion in healthcare costs annually, and kills some 1,200 Americans every day. We recently wrote that University of Nottingham researchers found that pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke—at work or home—have a 23 percent increased risk for a stillbirth and a 13 percent increased risk of giving birth to an infant with birth defects.

Previous research indicated that smoking women create significant health dangers to their unborn babies such as low birth weight, premature birth, and other birth defects including cleft palate, clubfoot, and cardiac issues.

Also, secondhand smoke has been linked to a variety of health issues; contains over 4,000 substances, including over 50 known or suspected carcinogens; and is linked to many diseases in adults and children, such as sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease, lung and sinus cancers, sinus problems, mental problems, and hearing loss. And, smoking has been linked to colorectal cancer, creating damage in the body just minutes after inhaling for the first time, increasing risks for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and significantly increasing arterial stiffness in people as young as 18 to 30.

As Reuters pointed out, health experts have recommended children be protected from secondhand smoke, a known culprit in “respiratory infections … severe asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.” According to Alpert, “The key message for parents is to protect their children from exposure to secondhand smoke,” quoted Reuters Health.

With 6 percent of the parents involved in the current study reporting that a member of their household smoked, this means that approximately 5 million U.S. children are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, said Reuters. About 20 percent of these parents reported children having at least one of either a learning or conduct disorder or ADHD; conduct disorders involve antisocial and aggressive behaviors, noted Reuters. In nonsmoking homes, the figures drop dramatically to 9 percent. After accounting for poverty, race, parental education levels, and other factors, the risk sharply increases to 51 percent, said Reuters.

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