Hair samples of children with mothers who smoke raise questions about claims of only smoking outdoors.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has serious adverse effects on children’s respiratory health. Physicians who advise the smoking parents of children with respiratory illnesses are often told that the parents “only smoke outdoors.”
In a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine researchers tested this statement. In their study of 291 children they compared the answers on a questionaire on smoking habits filled out by parents with children’s hair cotinine levels. Cotinine levels have been shown to provide a reliable measure of exposure to ETS. What they found was very interesting indeed!!
First maternal, but not paternal, smoking was significantly associated with the children’s hair cotinine levels. Secondly, there was no difference in continine levels between children whose mothers reported smoking outdoors exclusively versus those whose mothers admitted smoking indoors. Neither was there any correlation with the number of cigarettes that the mothers reported smoking. Go figure!