Effects of passive smoking on common respiratory symptoms in young children
Aim: To observe the effects of fathers' smoking on respiratory symptoms in children between the ages of 6 mo and 5 y living in Tehran during the period January to December 2001. Methods: The caregivers of 622 children attending resident-based clinics in two university hospitals were interviewed about the respiratory illnesses incurred by the child during the previous 12 mo and the smoking habits of those living with the child. Children who lived in households in which any person, other than the father, smoked were excluded. Results: The analysis included 595 children, 40.6% of whom were living in homes where fathers smoked cigarettes. About 35% of smokers admitted to unrestricted smoking at home. In children not living with a smoker, 81.6% had experienced at least one episode of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) during the previous year and the rate increased to 95.2% in passive smokers whose fathers were not restricted from smoking in front of the children, (p-value <0.01). A similar pattern was found for otitis media and asthma (p-value <0.05 and <0.01, respectively). The average number of URTI episodes during the previous year was significantly higher in children exposed to unrestricted smoking (p < 0.01). Conclusion: The study outlines the detrimental effects of paternal smoking on the respiratory health of children from a part of world in which this problem has not been studied previously, and highlights the importance of educating fathers to alter their smoking habits so that even if they do not stop smoking altogether, they should discontinue smoking indoors.