Second-Hand Smoke Contributing to ADHD in Kids

A new study out of Spain has linked second-hand smoke as a contributing factor of children being diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD is attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, and is one of the leading reasons why children do poorly in school, especially elementary school children. The Centers for Disease Control claims that two out of five children who live in the United States are exposed to second-hand on a regular basis.

adhd smoke healthThe study from Spain showed that the children who live in a home with tobacco smoke are nearly three times as likely to suffer from ADHD compared to the children who live in smoke-free homes. The study also found that if the children were exposed to the smoke for more than one hour a day, the risk of the child being diagnosed with ADHD was much higher, which shows more of an association between the two. When the researchers factored in the mental health of the children and parents, the link between second-hand smoke and ADHD was still present, and other factors had also been ruled out as contributing to the diagnosis.

The study consisted of 2,357 children that were between the ages of 4 to 12, which was from a 2011 and 2012 Spanish National Health Interview Study. The researchers in Spain, as well as other colleagues from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine analyzed the data from the 2011 and 2012 studies. The Spanish National Health Interview Study primarily focused on how much time the children had spent around people who smoked, which helped researchers pinpoint the amount of exposure the children received from the second-hand smoke.

In the recent Tobacco Control magazine, the author of the study wrote about the findings, which indicated that the exposure of second-hand smoke was substantially associated with higher amounts of global health problems, such as ADHD.


The study also required parents to complete a questionnaire, which helped researchers determine the mental health status of the children. Only about eight percent of the children involved in the study had any likelihood of a mental disorder, which is a low number compared to the number of children that were diagnosed with ADHD. 4.5 percent of the children were exposed to second-hand smoke for about an hour a day, while 7 percent of the children in the survey were exposed for less than one hour a day. Once all of the other factors such as mental disorder and socioeconomic status had been accounted for, the research concluded that the children had a 50 percent higher chance of mental disorder, if they had been exposed to tobacco for less than one hour each day. Among the children who were seeing about an hour a day of exposure to the second-hand smoke, that number jumped to being three times as likely to have mental disorders. The children who were exposed to the second-hand smoke for less than one hour a day had double the risk of getting ADHD, while the group who were exposed for more than one hour had three times the risk of having ADHD.

In conclusion, the study found a significant link between second-hand smoke and mental disorders in children, even those that were only exposed for less than an hour a day. Children who are exposed for an hour each day develop even higher risks of getting a mental disorder. The belief is that the second-hand smoke is impacting mental health disorders across the board, which then leads to issues like ADHD. However, it’s important to note that the study cannot say that the second-hand smoke is directly causing the mental disorders.

One thing that might throw off the study though is that the mental disorders that were accounted for on the questionnaire, often times were self-diagnosed, so a diagnosis from a mental health care worker or doctor was not always present. More studies will need to be done in order to determine whether or not there is a real cause for concern for children exposed to the second-hand smoke. While the research has yet to directly made a connection between second-hand smoke and mental illness, it’s still best not to be smoking around your children. By the time more research is done and a definite correlation is made, it might be too late when it comes to protecting your child from the consequences of your actions.




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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.

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