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Second-hand smoke may be linked to hearing loss in toddlers

Monday 11th June 2018
Exposure to smoking before and after birth could make it more likely that young children experience hearing loss, research has shown.
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Young children who are exposed to second-hand smoke may be more likely to experience hearing loss, according to a new study.

Researchers from Kyoto University have analysed data from 50,734 children aged three who were born between 2004 and 2010, some of whom were exposed to smoking in utero, while others experienced smoke exposure during the first few months of their lives.

Compared with children who were not exposed to tobacco smoke, those whose mothers had a past history of smoking prior to pregnancy were shown to have a 26 per cent higher relative risk of hearing impairment. This rose to 30 per cent for those exposed to second-hand smoke at four months of age. 

Meanwhile, children who were directly exposed to maternal smoking during pregnancy had a 68 per cent increased relative risk of hearing loss, while those who were exposed to smoking both during pregnancy and in the first four months of their life were 2.4 times more likely to have hearing problems.

The findings of this study, published in the medical journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, underlines how important it is for women to make themselves aware of public health guidelines that discourage smoking during pregnancy and in front of children, as this remains a common problem despite the body of evidence showing how harmful it can be.

Senior author Dr Koji Kawakami, at Kyoto University, said: "This study clearly shows that preventing exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and postnatally may reduce the risk of hearing problems in children.

"The findings remind us of the need to continue strengthening interventions to prevent smoking before and during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke in children."

Written by James Puckle

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