From the Journals

Secondhand smoke drives ED visits for teens



Teens who were exposed to any type of secondhand tobacco smoke were significantly more likely to visit emergency departments and to have more such visits, compared with unexposed controls, based on data from more than 7,000 adolescents.

cigarette pmphoto/iStockphoto

Approximately 35% of U.S. teens spent more than an hour exposed to secondhand smoke in a given week, wrote Ashley L. Merianos, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and her colleagues.

In a study published in Pediatrics, the researchers conducted a secondary analysis of nonsmoking adolescents aged 12-17 years who had not been diagnosed with asthma and who were part of the PATH (Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health) study, a longitudinal cohort trial of tobacco use behavior and related health outcomes in adolescents and adults in the United States. The data were collected between Oct. 3, 2014, and Oct. 30, 2015. The researchers reviewed three main measures of tobacco smoke exposure (TSE): living with a smoker, being exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and being exposed to secondhand smoke for an hour or more in the past 7 days.

Overall, teens who lived with a smoker, had secondary exposure at home, or had at least 1 hour of TSE had significantly more emergency department and/or urgent care visits (mean ranged from 1.62 to 1.65), compared with unexposed peers (mean visits ranged from 1.42 to 1.48). Those who both lived with a smoker and had at least 1 hour of TSE exposure were significantly more likely to visit an ED or urgent care center.

In addition, teens who lived with a smoker, had secondary exposure at home, and had at least 1 hour of TSE were significantly more likely than were unexposed peers to report shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, wheezing during and after exercise, and a dry cough at night (P less than .001).

The researchers also assessed other health indicators, and found that teens with TSE exposure were significantly less likely than were unexposed peers to report very good or excellent health and were approximately 1.50 times more likely than unexposed peers to report missing school because of poor health.

The results were limited by several factors including the use of self-reports of TSE and parent reports of emergency or urgent care visits, and by the inclusion only of other public use variables in the PATH database, the researchers noted. But they adjusted for potentially confounding factors such as household income level, parent education, and health insurance status. However, “Because adolescents are high users of EDs and/or [urgent care] for primary care reasons, these venues are high-volume settings that should be used to offer interventions to adolescents with TSE and their families,” they said.

The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health via the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

SOURCE: Merianos AL et al. Pediatrics 2018 Aug 6. doi: org/10.1542/peds.2018-0266.

Next Article: