Children and adolescents in the United States exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) are at risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and conduct disorder, new research suggests.
In a national survey study of more than 2000 nonsmokers between the ages of 8 and 15 years, investigators found that serum cotinine levels, signifying SHS exposure, were positively associated with symptoms of all these disorders — and were especially correlated for boys.
"Our results have important public health implications," write Frank C. Bandiera, MPH, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, Florida, and colleagues.
"Given the critical developmental period of childhood and adolescence, the effects of policy to reduce or ban smoking in public places and in the home may help prevent or reduce the progression of illness in at-risk individuals and alleviate the heavy burden...attributable not only to tobacco use but also to mental disorders," they write.
Although the findings are in line with previous research showing a link between mental health outcomes and SHS exposure, the investigators note that this study did not "establish the biological or psychological mechanisms of association."
Still, the investigators note that this new research does provide "critical and much-needed data."
The study is published in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.