Secondhand Smoke Hurts Low-Birthweight Babies

Respiratory illnesses like asthma are more common among low-birthweight babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke, Reuters reported Jan. 19.

Researcher Jill S. Halterman of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and colleagues studied 124 very low birthweight babies and found that many experienced respiratory ailments during their first year of life. Nearly one in 10 had asthma, for example.

Exposure to secondhand smoke and pests in the home raised the risk of illness, researchers found. “The infants who lived with a smoker and those who were exposed to pests were more likely to need acute care for respiratory illnesses compared to those who weren’t exposed,” said Halterman.

The study was published in the January 2009 issue of the Archives of Diseases in Childhood.