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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
September 25, 2013

Tobacco Smoke Exposure Among Children

JAMA. 2013;310(12):1218. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277391

More children with asthma are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the United States than are children who don’t have the chronic lung disease.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that from 1999 to 2010, the percentage of children without asthma who were exposed to ETS decreased to 44.2% from 57.3%. But no similar change occurred in children with asthma, about 54% of whom are exposed to ETS.

Exposure to ETS increases children’s risk of developing middle ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, coughing and wheezing, compromised lung function, and asthma. The US Surgeon General’s office has reported that children with asthma whose parents smoke have more severe symptoms and more frequent exacerbations. In 2007 the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program issued guidelines recommending that ETS exposure among people with asthma be minimized. The condition is common among children in the United States—in 2007 to 2010, about 1 in 10 had asthma.