Kids living with smokers fall sick more often

Children who live with smokers are likely to take more sick days and miss school than those who live in households with non-smokers, says a new study.

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that these children have higher rates of respiratory illnesses that can be caused by second-hand smoke.

They analyzed data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey that tracked, among other things, how many days of school children aged 6 to 11 missed and the reason for their absence.

Of the 3,087 children, more than 14 percent lived in a home with at least one person who smoked in the house.

They found children living with one or more smokers in the home missed one to two more days of school per year on average, than those who lived with non-smokers. 

The research suggests that families could reduce absenteeism by 24 to 34 percent if smoking was eliminated from their households.

"Among children ages 6 to 11 who live with smokers, one quarter to one third of school absences are due to household smoking," said lead author Douglas Levy, PhD, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH.

The finding appears in the online edition of Pediatrics.

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