Children that are secondhand smokers could have extended sleep problems

Sunday 24th January 2010

Unfortunately, many children are exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis, be it their parents, grandparents, friends and so on that are smoking around them; but doctors and scientist warn that this could be having a severe impact on their overall wellbeing. The February edition of Pediatrics (already available online) gives an in-depth report on a study based on exactly this kind of problem; focusing predominantly on children who suffer from asthma; ‘Associations between secondhand smoke exposure and sleep patterns in children’.

The study entailed the examination of 219 children, who had previously registered for an asthma intervention scheme; all of which were also exposed to secondhand smoke. The children were aged from 6 to 12 years and regularly came into the contact of secondhand smoke from at least five cigarettes a day. The children’s cotinine (a nicotine metabolite) levels were monitored and their parents/guardians completed questionnaires on the child’s sleeping habits. Significant sleep problems were then discovered in these children who had asthma and were exposed to secondhand smoke; some of the sleep problems included Parasomnias, daytime sleepiness, and disturbances to their sleep and so on.

Researchers suggest that this is a significant discovery that needs acting upon by any parents with children who are exposed to secondhand smoke; particularly those with children who have asthma. Smoking has been linked to causing sleep problems in many adult smokers themselves, and the severe health complications that it could be having on children is clear. Not only could it be affecting their physical health but also their mental health, as children vitally need their sleep in order to be fully prepared and rejuvenated for the day ahead. A lack of sleep can lead to behavioral problems, education difficulties and much more. Therefore, secondhand smoking is not only dangerous for children in the short-term but could significantly impair them in the long-term both physically and mentally.

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