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Doctors ill equipped to confront parent smoking

With the growing concerns of childrens exposure to secondhand smoke, it has become more critical than ever to involve health care providers such as pediatricians in educating parents about the potential hazardous health consequences.

Almost 60 percent of U.S. children ages 3 to 11 -- approximately 22 million children --are exposed to secondhand smoke daily with urban children suffering the highest rates of exposure in a U.S. Surgeon General report from June 2006.

However, minimal formal medical training exists regarding how pediatricians can effectively speak to their patients about secondhand smoke-related issues, according to an article in the May issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Part of the issue is teaching medical residents (physicians in training) to advise smoking parents at every patient visit. Consider every message as a dose of advice that in the long run could promote lasting changes in parental smoking behavior and childrens exposure, said Brad Collins, Ph.D, the lead author and assistant professor of public health at Temple University.

The Surgeon Generals report also found secondhand smoke causes disease and death in children and nonsmoking adults. Breathing secondhand smoke can be harmful to children's health and can cause or contribute to asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis and pneumonia and ear infections.

The developing lungs of young children are severely affected by exposure to secondhand smoke for several reasons including that children are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments.

Previous surveys by Collins team found that over 40 percent of postpartum mothers were either currently smoking or reported smoking late in their pregnancy.

The rates of postpartum smoking we found in North and West Philadelphia are consistent with other, lower income, urban communitie
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Contact: Anna Nguyen
anna.nguyen@temple.edu
215-707-1731
Temple University
1-May-2007


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