Smoking mums endanger kids more than smoking dads do, Yomiuri Shimbun reports

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Children whose mothers smoke have about 4.5% more cotinine–a nicotine by-product and a marker for nicotine exposure – in their urine than those exposed to secondhand smoke from their fathers, according to a survey by a group of researchers.

The survey indicated that children with smoking mothers have a higher risk of lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

The survey covered about 1,000 fourth year primary school students in Kumagaya,  Saitama Prefecture. It revealed that, in many cases, one of both parents of children who show signs of lifestyle-related diseases smoke.

In response to the survey results, the Kumagaya municipal government decided to conduct passiv smoke health checkups on fourth-year primary school students in the city on a voluntary basis staring from this month. Such checkups are rare.

The survey was conducted by a group of researchers led by Toshiro Ino, a doctor in the city who is also a visiting professor at Gunma Paz Colleg in Takasaki Gunma Prefecture. It was done over a five-year period up to 2006. The group sampled urine from 1,048 children in Kumagaya, after receiving consent from th children’s parents, and examined the tinine concentration. The survey also asked questions about thir parents’ smoking habits and where they smoke.

When compared to children whose parents do not smoke, children with smoking mother have about 10.5 times as much cotinine concentration in their urine.  Even if the mothers smoke outside the house, on the balcony, for example, their children’s cotinin concentration was found to be 4.5 times higher than those whose parents are nonsmokers. This suggests smoking outside does not eliminate the risk of secondhand smoke for children.

The survey also found that children who show signs of obesity or high blood pressure have cotinine concntration levels three times higher than other children.

“The  longer a smoking mother stays at home, the more her children are exposed to passive smoking,” Ino said. “Smoking by a mother is believed to have a more adverse ffect on children’s health than smoking by a father.

“To lower the risk of children’s passive smoking, it’s important to have mothers realize [how badly smoking affects children’s health]”.

The Yomiuri Shimbun Fri, Oct 12, 2007

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