Secondhand smoke may cause mental health problems in children

Living in a household with secondhand smoke may increase children’s odds of developing certain neurobehavioral disorders, such as learning disabilities and conduct and behavior disorders, by 50%, according to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research reported in The Huffington Post.

Research scientist Hillel Alpert and colleagues analyzed data from the 2007 National Survey on Children’s Health, which covered 55,358 American children under age 12. HSPH researchers also found that certain groups of children appear to be at higher risk from secondhand smoke: boys, older children (between ages 9 and 11), and children in the poorest households.

“We estimate that 274,000 cases of the most common neurobehavioral disorders could have been prevented with smoke-free homes,” Alpert told The Huffington Post.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics on July 11, 2011.

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