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Times of India
09 October 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
Sydney, Australia

Higher Rates Of Headache, Stuttering Among Them
Children exposed to second–hand smoke have significantly higher rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), headache and stuttering than those who are not exposed.

Passive Child Smokers Prone To Health Issues
A study conducted by American scientists, and presented at the Asia–Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (APACT) here on Friday revealed that children exposed to second–hand smoke had double the rate of both ADHD (10.6% compared to 4.6%) and stuttering (6.3%% compared to 3.5%), and an increased occurrence of headaches (14.2% compared to 10.0%).

Adolescents had significantly higher rates of headaches (26.5% compared to 20.0%). This finding could have serious implications for India, which is home to 10% of the world’s smokers.

Researcher Wendy Max, Professor of Health Economics at the University of California in San Francisco, said the results showed children’s exposure to second–hand tobacco smoke could have a negative impact on their learning and education as well as their health and all–round wellness.

"Our research shows children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are impacted in three different areas of their development. These physical and mental problems are a disadvantage to a child’s cognitive and social development," Professor Max said.

"Children in countries with high smoking prevalence are most vulnerable. As smoking rates in developed countries continue to fall, the burden of childhood exposure to secondhand smoke will be disproportionately borne by countries that already face economic disadvantages," he added.

The study delved into the exposure to cigarette smoke at home among children aged between four and 11 and adolescents aged 12–15, and also measured the cotinine levels in their blood (a measure of exposure to tobacco smoke). The research covered children aged between 4 and 15 years from both smoking and nonsmoking families.

Professor Ian Olver, CEO of Cancer Council Australia CEO, said the research proved that smoking not only harms active smokers but also those around them, with children often the most susceptible. "The right to a smoke–free childhood is a basic human right.

Governments need to work together to educate communities everywhere about smoking. It is anaddiction that kills more than half of those addicted, and harms others as well, particularly where smoking is unregulated," Professor Olver said.

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