Youth Face Risk of Secondhand Smoke in Cars

When your teenage son or daughter climbs into a friend’s car, you probably remind them to wear their seat belt, stay off the cell phone and turn the music down.

Here’s another danger they may face: secondhand smoke.

Not only can it cause acute respiratory infections, secondhand smoke for young children and adolescents can lead to middle ear disease, delayed lung growth and more severe asthma, according to federal health officials.

Although fewer teens today are exposed to secondhand smoke in cars compared to 10 years ago, it still remains a significant health risk, according to federal researchers who published their study online in the journal Pediatrics.

Here’s where parents should be concerned: in 2009, one in five non-smoking students were exposed to secondhand smoke at least once a week in a car.

For students who smoke, the exposure was much higher. Seventy-five percent of smoking students reported being in a car where someone was smoking in the past week.

The study, based on national surveys conducted in private and public middle and high schools, did not ask students if the person who was smoking in the car was a peer or an adult.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and Pediatrics.

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