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Secondhand Smoke Means a Second Visit to the Hospital for Asthmatic Children

New research reveals asthmatic children with parents who smoke are twice as likely to make a return trip to the hospital.

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By Bryan Le

01/20/14

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If you needed yet another reason to quit smoking, here's one: children with asthma whose parents smoke are twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital. Researchers measured the cotinine—a substance created when nicotine is processed by the body—in the blood and saliva of 600 children who visited the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and kept track of those who made a second trip within a year. Around 17% of the children returned, with 56% testing positive for cotinine in their blood and 80% for cotinine in their saliva—despite only 35% of their primary caregivers admitting to smoking.

The researchers hope their findings can help people find a reason to quit smoking as well as reduce the number of kids who have to visit the hospital. "The ability to measure serum and salivary cotinine levels presents the possibility of an objective measure that can be obtained when a child is seen in the emergency department or in the hospital and may be used to predict future hospitalizations," says head researcher Dr. Robert Kahn. Besides preventing the irreparable harm caused by secondhand smoke, keeping asthmatic children out of the hospital would also save taxpayers money as 76% of the surveyed children were assisted by Medicare.

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