A British study has found that babies admitted to the hospital with bronchiolitis from a household where a parent smokes are twice as likely to need oxygen therapy and 5 times as likely to need mechanical ventilation as babies whose parents do not smoke. The findings appear in PLoS ONE.

The study assessed infants from Liverpool, England, who were admitted to a local hospital with a diagnosis of bronchiolitis. The city has many areas of high socioeconomic deprivation and high rates of cigarette smoking. The study found that infants admitted to the hospital from smoking households were more seriously affected by bronchiolitis than infants who came from nonsmoking households, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

The relationship between household tobacco smoke and risk of developing bronchiolitis in infants is well recognized, as is the relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and smoking. To date, however, it has been difficult to describe the independent contributions of tobacco smoke exposure and socioeconomic status upon severity of bronchiolitis.

“Tobacco smoke exposure is a preventable factor that both causes and increases the severity of disease in infants and their consequent use of health resources,” said Calum Semple, PhD, from the Institute of Child Health. “This study provides the first robust evidence that the adverse health effects of smoking can be distinguished from the health effects of social deprivation.”

Source: University of Liverpool