A new study found that being exposed to smokers doubles the risk of hospitalization among children diagnosed with asthma.
Secondhand smoking (SHS) is said to exacerbate asthma attacks. According to previous studies, there is an association between increased clinical manifestations of asthma, healthcare utilization and child mortalities among those exposed to SHS. However, a uniform quantified data pertaining to the risks has not been established in any research.
For this new study, the experts led by the Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center, conducted a systematic review and analysis of different past studies to assess and measure the extent of asthma, as well as the health care utilization among children exposed to SHS.
The authors reviewed the results of past researches that evaluated participants exposed to SHS and identified various outcomes of interest (inclusion criteria) such as asthma exacerbations, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, severe clinical presentation, wheezing and results of pulmonary function examinations. The researchers used random effect models to conglomerate these parameters.
In total, the authors were able to gather 1,945 studies, of which 25 were able to meet the inclusion criteria. The researches that made the final cut for analysis included approximately 430,000 children.
The findings of the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, showed that children diagnosed with asthma who are exposed to SHS were twice as likely to be admitted in the hospital, compared to those who have no exposure. Also, the risk of having poor lung function was more than triple in the exposed group. SHS-exposed asthmatic participants were also found to be 66 percent and 32 percent more likely to show up for emergency/ urgent care services and exhibit wheezing symptoms respectively.
“The results of this review serve as a reminder to parents of just how dangerous it is to expose their children to secondhand smoke,” said Avni Joshi, senior researcher of the study and a pediatric allergist and immunologist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. Although it is known that children should not be subjected to tobacco exposure, the extent with which their asthma can get was not clearly established. In this study, the authors were able to help quantify the risk hence, it informs and enables risk assessment.
Regardless of the period and extent of SHS exposure, it can be hoped that stopping tobacco smoking can aid in the improvement of clinical symptoms associated with asthma, as well as in health care use.
Photo: Katrina J Houdek | Flickr