WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who smoke at home could jeopardize their children's academic success and harm their family's finances in ways that go beyond that of spending lots of money on cigarettes, according to a new study.
The research, done at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that children living with smokers have higher rates of respiratory illness and missed one to two more days of school per year than their classmates, possibly causing academic troubles.
Moreover, the study found that the family's finances were undermined when caregivers had to miss work and stay home to care for their children when they got sick.
Nationally, family members who stayed home to care for children with smoking-related illnesses lost at least $227 million annually in forfeited wages and productivity, the study reported. The true figure probably was higher because missed workdays during school vacations were not included, the researchers added.
Noting that the damage of second-hand smoke on youngsters' health has been known for some time, one of the study's authors said the new research found even more harm resulting from smoking at home.
"The main point is that the harm of cigarette use is more than just health harm. It affects kids' access to education and households' bottom lines," said lead study author Douglas Levy, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Over time, parental smoking at home may result in lower achievement at school for their children, the study suggested, pointing to other research that connected missed schooldays and lower academic performance.
In addition, because smokers "have lower incomes, on average . . . the economic impact can be potentially serious" for the families affected, said Levy, who is also an assistant in Health Care Policy at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Mass
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