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Poor Kids Exposed to More Secondhand Smoke
Date:4/3/2009

Wealthier households are less apt to include adult smokers, study finds,,,,

FRIDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Poor children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than their wealthier counterparts, a new study has found.

A big reason for this is that "poor kids are far more likely to live with multiple adult smokers than are non-poor kids," said study author Dr. Michael Weitzman, a professor of pediatrics at New York University.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop respiratory infections, earaches and severe asthma. In addition, studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke to hyperactivity disorder and behavioral problems.

"This paper demonstrates the complex network of who exposes children in their homes," Weitzman said. "Secondhand smoke is the most ubiquitous and pernicious child environmental health exposure in the U.S."

For the study, which is in the April issue of Pediatrics, the researchers collected data on families who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted from 2000 to 2004.

They found that slightly more than a third of the children lived in homes with at least one adult smoker. But about 49 percent of children from lower-income households lived with someone who smoked, compared with 21 percent of kids from wealthier families, and poorer children were more apt to live with more than one smoker as well.

Among the approximately 5 million children who did not live with their parents, about 53 percent lived with a grandparent who smoked, and 46 percent lived with another relative who smoked, whereas 33 percent of children who lived with their parents co-existed with an adult smoker.

Considering just children who lived with someone who smoked, the smoker was the child's mother 59 percent of the time, and 57 percent of the children lived in homes where two people smoked. In contrast, 17 percent of the children
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