HEALTH: Spanish hospital uncovers that passive smoking worsens asthma attacks in children

AT RISK: Children who are passive smokers lose lung capacity

Almost half of the children admitted to hospital for asthma are passive smokers, according to a study conducted at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid. The information coincides with data given by the World Health Organisation, that states 40 per cent of children are exposed to passive smoking at home.

In Spain, the prevalence of childhood asthma is estimates at around 10 per cent. Up until now, it was known that babies born of smoking mothers had diminished lung function and that children exposed to passive smoking also suffered an alteration of their lung capacity.

The study analysed the situation of 365 children who, at some time between 2011 and 2015, were admitted to hospital due to an asthmatic crisis. It revealed that 41 per cent of children who had severe asthmatic crises were subjected to passive smoking at home.

The average age of patients in the paediatrics ward was 5 and the duration of their admission was 4 days. Doctors observed that children exposed to smoke had lower oxygen saturation at the time of admission, as well as more severe crises and worst lung parameters. It was also noted that the asthma was more acute when the father was a smoker, compared to the mother.

The information from the investigation was presented in a scientific letter, published in the journal of the Spanish Society of Paediatric Pulmonology. Doctors explain that asthma and passive smoking are a worrying combination. Children who suffer from bronchial hyperreactivity are more sensitive to environmental pollutants, including tobacco smoke, that increases airway inflammation and causes a limitation of air flow.