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article imageStudy: Kids who live with smokers more likely to miss school

By Kathleen Blanchard     Sep 6, 2011 in Health
Kids who live with smokers miss more days of school, compared to children who live in non-smoking households. The finding supports research showing how second-hand smoke negatively impacts respiratory health of children.
For the study, researchers looked at days absent from school among 3,087 children ages 6 to 11. More than 14 percent lived with at least one smoker in the household.
Information for the study was self-reported form parents and caregivers.
The results showed one smoker in the home was linked to 1.06 more days missed from school. Kids living in households with two smokers missed 1.54 more days of school, compared to children in non-smoking homes.
Douglas Levy, PhD, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “on a national basis these absences result in $227 million in lost wages and time for caregivers or their employers.” This is a significant loss, especially, as Levy noted, “almost half of the smoking households in our study had low incomes,” which means those least able to afford the additional costs are affected by them.”
Ailments associated with kids who live with smokers included chest colds and ear infections.
Living with two or more smokers was linked to 3 or more ear infections in the previous 12 months. Kids in smoking households were more likely to have had a chest cold within two weeks of the interview.
Thirty-four percent of children absent from school lived with two smokers; 24% of absenteeism was associated with one indoor smoker.
The authors concluded kids who skip school from illness linked to smoking in the home fall behind academically. Smoking at home not only harms kids’ health. It costs money from wages lost to caregivers and increases childhood morbidity.
The research is published in the journal Pediatrics. Previous studies have also shown children exposed to smoke at home suffer higher rates of behavioral problems.
The financial burden of school absenteeism linked to kids who live with smokers is significant; especially considering half of the study participants were low-income.
The study shows kids who live in homes with or more smokers have higher rates of school absenteeism than those who live in non-smoking homes. The finding is important and highlights the need for ongoing public education.
More about Smoking, school absenteeism, Douaglas Levy, Study, Cigarettes
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