Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Children's coughs related to parental smoking.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 02 June 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1647
  1. A Charlton


    A survey of the smoking habits, attitudes, and background of over 15 000 8-19 year olds in northern England in December 1982 showed a positive correlation between parental smoking and the reporting of frequent coughs by children who had never smoked. This was especially pronounced in the youngest children. Thirty five per cent of boys under 11 who had never smoked and whose parents did not smoke reported frequent coughs; with one parent smoking this increased to 42%, and when both parents smoked the proportion was 48%. Girls under 11 showed the same pattern, with 32%, 40%, and 52% respectively reporting frequent coughs. Fewer older children in general reported frequent coughs. Mothers' smoking had more influence on children's coughs than had fathers' smoking. Social area type had no significant effect. No significant effect of passive smoking was observed when the children themselves were smokers. These results are clear evidence of a definite link between smoking in the home and coughs in young children, which not only may present immediate problems but may also be a cause of illness in the future.