Poor children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than their wealthier counterparts.

April 5, 2009 - Children exposed to secondhand smoke (ETS, environmental tobacco smoke, passive smoking, sidestream smoke, involuntary smoking) are more likely to develop respiratory infections, earaches and severe asthma. In addition, studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke to hyperactivity disorder and behavioral problems.

Researchers collected data on families who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted from 2000 to 2004. They found that slightly more than a third of the children lived in homes with at least one adult smoker. But about 49 percent of children from lower-income households lived with someone who smoked, compared with 21 percent of kids from wealthier families, and poorer children were more apt to live with more than one smoker as well.

Among the approximately 5 million children who did not live with their parents, about 53 percent lived with a grandparent who smoked, and 46 percent lived with another relative who smoked, whereas 33 percent of children who lived with their parents co-existed with an adult smoker.

Considering just children who lived with someone who smoked, the smoker was the child's mother 59 percent of the time, and 57 percent of the children lived in homes where two people smoked. In contrast, 17 percent of the children whose mother did not smoke lived with other adult smokers, the researchers noted.

Family Composition and Children's Exposure to Adult Smokers in Their Homes
Katherine King, MSc, MPhila, Melissa Martynenko, MPH, Melissa H. Bergman, MD, Ying-Hua Liu, MD, MPA, Jonathan P. Winickoff, MD, MPH and Michael Weitzman, MDPEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 4 April 2009, pp. e559-e564

Reference: http://healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=625474">Poor Kids Exposed to More Secondhand Smoke
Wealthier households are less apt to include adult smokers, study finds
by Steven Reinberg, Health Day, 4/3/2009.