Where you live might be putting your baby at risk for secondhand smoke exposure, according to a first-of-its kind study that found evidence of increased tobacco smoke exposure in young children who live in apartments and other multi-unit housing, even if no one in the child’s home smokes. Published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers measured cotinine levels (a common marker of tobacco smoke exposure) in a group of children who lived in smoke-free households. Compared to children who lived in detached homes, apartment-dwelling children had 45 percent higher levels of cotinine.
Because children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke—even at very low levels of exposure—are at greater risk for a variety of illnesses, health experts view these findings with alarm.
“The scope of illnesses in children associated with tobacco smoke exposure is expansive, ranging from asthma to cognitive impairments to sudden infant death syndrome,” says Dr. Karen Wilson, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Golisano Children’s Hospital and lead author of the paper.
Does your apartment or condo complex permit smoking? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is calling on lawmakers to ban smoking in all multi-unit homes as important health safety measure for children.
“The AAP calls for smoke-free environments for all children, and this new study makes clear that multi-unit housing must be completely smoke-free to achieve this goal. The expansion of smoke-free policies at all levels is essential ... All children deserve to live in a healthy environment, and this can only be achieved by eliminating tobacco smoke where they live," says AAP President Dr. O. Marion Burton.