Issue: October 2011
October 01, 2011
1 min read

Parental smoking contributes to ear problems in children

Jones LL. Arch Pediatr Adol Med. 2011;doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.158.

Issue: October 2011
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Parents who smoke, particularly mothers who smoke pre- and postnatally, are more likely to have children who require surgery for ear infections and other hearing issues.

Laura L. Jones, PhD, of the University of Nottingham in England, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 61 studies published on various databases, including Medline.

The researchers said their findings indicate that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of children requiring surgery. They estimated that 130,200 cases of middle ear disease in the United Kingdom and almost 293,000 cases of frequent ear infections in the United States, of about 4.5 million annually, would be attributed to secondhand smoke exposure.

Specifically, “living with a smoker increased risk of middle ear disease in children by an odds OR of 1.62 (95% CI, 1.33-1.97) for maternal postnatal smoking and by 1.37 (95% CI, 1.25-1.50) for any household member.”

Prenatal smoking of household members also increased risk for babies with middle ear disease, but to a less significant percentage.

“Surgical treatments for otitis media, such as grommet-pressure equalization tube insertion, have been shown to be questionable in their effectiveness, associated with high risk, and resource- and cost-intensive,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, primary prevention through the reduction of risk factors, such as exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, is key to reducing the burden of middle ear disease in childhood.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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