Children of smokers 'are less healthy'

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CHILDREN of parents who smoke suffer significantly more illness than those born to non-smoking parents, research out today shows, writes Judy Jones. Just over half the children of non- smoking parents had been treated for respiratory tract infections in their first 18 months, compared with nearly 70 per cent of those with a parent who smoked.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, also says that the children of smokers used more nose drops, cough mixture and medicines prescribed for stomach upsets.

The study, carried out on 240 babies in southern Sweden at their 18-month check-up, confirms previous research that passive smoking in families has a noticeable effect on children's health.

A second study in the journal, of illness among UK children under 10, shows that more boys than girls taken to their GP are referred to specialists and admitted to hospital. The cause cannot be explained by illness rates alone, it says, and may reflect differing parental attitudes.