Children exposed to passive smoke prone to neurotic problems

Boston: Children who grow up exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from neurobehavioural disorders like learning disabilities, lack of concentration and hyperactivity, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.

Researchers, led by the Harvard School of Public Health, have found that children who grow up among parents or family members who smoke, are 50 per cent more likely of having at least two of the three disorders, namely a learning disability, behavioural or conduct problem and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).

Among kids who lived with a smoker, 20.4 per cent or one in five had been diagnosed with at least one neurobehavioural condition.

The study revealed that boys are at a higher risk than girls of getting these disorders. The researchers believed that such disabilities could be prevented if children are not exposed to active or passive smoke.

Of the sample size of 55,000 children under the age of 12 being surveyed, about six per cent were exposed to passive smoke, corresponding to about 4.8 million children nationwide.

Older children, especially those aged 9 to 11 years, and those living in households with the highest poverty levels were also at greater risks in developing these disorders.

ADHD is a long-term, chronic condition. If it is not treated appropriately, ADHD may lead to drug and alcohol abuse among children. A child with neurotic disorder is likely to fail to give close attention to details or tends to makes careless mistakes at school work.