Second-hand smoke worsens kids flu symptoms

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More evidence that, if you re going to smoke (which we don t recommend), you shouldn t do it around your kids: A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that children exposed to second-hand smoke at home are more likely to have serious complications when they come down with the flu.

After analyzing the medical records of over 100 kids hospitalized with the flu in New York State, researchers found that those exposed to second-hand smoke in the home required a 70 percent longer stay in the hospital and were five times as likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit than those kids who did not live with a smoker. Researchers, led by Dr. Karen Wilson of Children s Hospital Colorado, found that second-hand smoke exposure was reported on the charts of 40 percent of the children in the records dating from 2002 to 2009.

As we ve discussed before, regular childhood exposure to cigarette smoke has been linked to increased rates of ear infection, asthma, and lung infections. The CDC estimates that such second-hand smoke exposure leads to the hospitalization of up to 15,000 children under the age of 18 months every year. The latest study, however, is the first to investigate the effect of second-hand smoke on kids who come down with the flu.

This latest finding is really no surprise, says ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. We ve known for quite some time that second-hand smoke from parents increases the risk of all types of respiratory problems in children. This study simply adds to our understanding...and should be a warning to adults to take all measures necessary to avoid smoking around children.