HOMES SHOULD BE SMOKE-FREE ZONES SOON AFTER BIRTH
SMOKE-FREE ZONES SOON AFTER BIRTH
New mothers who want to establish a no-smoking policy in their homes are more likely to have the policy stick if they start it early, soon after the birth of their children.
â€œOur results suggest that establishing a policy against smoking in the home in the first three to six months after birth is important in controlling infantsâ€™ environmental tobacco smoke exposure in the home, say Marianna Sockrider, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Baylor College of Medicine and colleagues. Their study appears in the December issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
Three months after birth, 63 percent of the homes had a no-smoking policy in effect. At six months, the percentage dropped slightly to 60 percent and then rebounded to 64 percent at 12 months.
Mothers who had established a no-smoking policy at three months were more likely than others to still have the policy at six months. Those who said they were confident they could control smoke exposure in their homes were also more likely to have a no-smoking policy.
Secondhand smoke has been linked to an increased risk of asthma, ear and lung infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in children. Half to two-thirds of all children in the United States under age 5 may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the home, according to a 1992 Environmental Protection Agency report.
Short of smoking cessation, eliminating smoking in the home is the best strategy to reduce most infant exposure, Sockrider and colleagues say.
The study included 325 women who had taken part in a smoking cessation program during their pregnancies. Sockrider and colleagues interviewed them five times during their infantsâ€™ first year to find out whether the mothers, their partners, other household members or visitors were allowed to smoke in the home.
Using data supplied by the mothers, the researchers calculated the average number of hours per day the infants were exposed to secondhand smoke. Some families also had a nicotine detector installed in their homes for two weeks to confirm exposure reports.
The mothersâ€™ reports of infant exposure generally agreed with the data collected by the monitors, although not all families were monitored. Infants in the 325 homes were exposed to an average of 1.6 hours per day at age 6 months and 1.3 hours per day when they were a year old.
The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.