The study looked at over 3,000 children and found that those with the highest levels of secondhand smoke chemicals in their bloodstreams were more likely to exhibit behavioral and mental health issues. The link with ADHD was especially strong.
The study isn’t enough to definitively prove a link between mental health issues and second-hand smoke, but it provides strong-enough evidence that researchers said it would be “a surprise” if the link were not proven by follow-up research.
The study emerged from the University of Miami and involved measuring levels of nicotine exposure in kids’ blood and interviewing kids to screen for mental health issues. They found a strong correlation between the two:
After taking into account factors such as age and race, boys who were exposed to secondhand smoke were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder than those with no secondhand smoke exposure. Girls who were exposed to secondhand smoke had more symptoms of ADHD and anxiety only.
The researchers don’t know yet why being around cigarette smoke seems to affect children’s brains. They also don’t know whether the affect they’re seeing is related to damage from being exposed to the mother’s cigarette smoking in the womb and how much it’s related to current smoke exposure.
While plenty of questions remain, they have no hesitation about recommending that moms keep smoke away from their kids. In addition to the new findings about ADHD, second-hand smoke is implicated in heart problems and breathing problems in kids.
Carolyn was just writing about whether or not smoking should be banned in cars with kids. Maybe smoking around kids should be banned altogether?