Children who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, also known as secondhand smoke, have an increased probability of experiencing such adverse health effects as infections of the lower respiratory tract, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and respiratory symptoms.55 Secondhand smoke can also play a role in the development and exacerbation of asthma. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.55 Cotinine, a breakdown product of nicotine, is a marker for recent (previous 1–2 days) exposure to secondhand smoke in nonsmokers.
NOTE: Cotinine levels are reported for nonsmoking children only. "Any detectable cotinine" indicates blood cotinine levels at or above 0.05 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), the detectable level of cotinine in the blood in 1988–1994. The average (geometric mean) blood cotinine level in children living in homes where someone smoked was 1.0 ng/mL in 1988–199456 and in 2003–2006.57
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
NOTE: A home where someone smoked regularly is defined as one in which smoking by a resident occurred 4 or more days per week.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.
55 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
56 Mannino, D.M., Caraballo, R., Benowitz, N., and Repace, J. (2001). Predictors of cotinine levels in U.S. children: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. CHEST, 120, 718–724.
57 Marano, C., Schober, S.E., Brody, D.J., and Zhang, C. (2009). Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure among children and adolescents: United States, 2003–2006. Pediatrics, 124(5): 1299–1305.
58 Regular smoking is defined as smoking by a resident that occurs 4 or more days per week.