Children who live with smokers fall ill more often than those not exposed to tobacco smoke, according to new research by the University of Cincinnati which analysed 2011-2012 data from the National Survey on Children’s Health. They looked at patterns of health care utilisation among children who were living with smokers compared with those not exposed to tobacco smoke at home. Results showed a total of 24 per cent of the 95,677 children in the study, corresponding to a weighted total of 17.6 million children across the US, lived with smokers. About 5 per cent of the children lived with someone who smokes inside the home, equivalent to a weighted sum of 3.6 million US children, they said.

Children who lived with a smoker or who had exposure to tobacco smoke inside the home were significantly more likely to have had any medical care visit, including sick care. At the same time, researchers said that they were considerably less likely to have had any dental care visits.

“Our findings indicate that tobacco smoke exposure has a significant impact on demand for health care services,” said Ashley Merianos from University of Cincinnati. “Settings with a high volume of children exposed to tobacco smoke at home, including paediatric emergency departments, could serve as effective outlets for health messages to inform caregivers about the dangers of smoking around children and help d e crease these potentially preventable tobacco smoke exposure-related visits and associated costs,” said Merianos.