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Acta Paediatr Suppl. 2006 Oct;95(453):86-92.

Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and children's health.

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Department of Environmental Epidemiology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Poland.


Almost half of the child population is involuntarily exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The ETS exposure gives rise to an excessive risk of several diseases in infancy and childhood, including sudden infant death syndrome, upper and lower respiratory infections, asthma and middle ear diseases. It is also linked to cancer, and behavioural problems and neurocognitive deficits in children.


Protecting children from ETS exposure is a complex and important issue. The best improvement in children's health is to be gained when parents stop smoking or, when that is not possible, they stop smoking in their children's environment. Paediatricians, because of their authority, and their frequent and regular contact with parents, play a leading role in protecting children from ETS exposure. An ideal approach to help parents to stop smoking seems to be initial minimal-contact advice provided by their paediatrician with feedback and supplemental printed materials, leading to greater intensity and duration of follow-up home visits.

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