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Smoking parents linked to severe asthma

A third of children who have potentially fatal asthma attacks are being exposed to tobacco smoke, a new report has found.

Children’s doctors have become “complacent” in the need to advise parents about the hazards of smoke exposure among children with asthma, according to a new audit from the British Thoracic Society (BTS).

The review has prompted a call for health workers to do more to inform parents about the health risks of second-hand smoke to their children.

Experts reviewed data on 5,500 children admitted to 153 hospitals across the UK with severe asthma attacks in November 2015.

They found that 32 per cent had been exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

The authors point out that passive smoking is “recognised as an important factor in asthma attacks in children that lead to hospitalisation”.

But two in five hospitals failed to record data on this issue, meaning doctors might need to pay greater attention to asking about exposure to tobacco smoke, they said.

The authors conclude: “Paediatricians may have become complacent about the need to record and advise parents about the hazards of smoke exposure in children with wheezing/asthma.”

Dr James Paton, reader in paediatric respiratory medicine at the University of Glasgow, who led the BTS audit, said: “It’s very worrying that a third of children were potentially exposed to tobacco smoke at home, although more data is needed here.

“When discharging children, health professionals should take the opportunity to talk about the issue with their parents or carers – and offer smoking cessation support as appropriate.”

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