Secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in Appalachian children and associated adverse effects is understudied and not well documented. In a new study appearing in the Journal of Appalachian Health, a collaborative team of investigators from the HCA Healthcare Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the University of Albany, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health assessed the prevalence of SHS exposure in Appalachian children by parental self-report and internal biological measure.
Parent reported measures and child serum cotinine measures of SHS exposure were compared with national and Appalachian-state estimates. Analysis found that 37 percent parents reported at least one smoker in the home, yet 50 percent of children had a detectible level of cotinine in serum.
The authors conclude that children living in rural Appalachian counties are significantly exposed to SHS. Parental self-reports of smoking, however, underestimate child exposure to SHS as measured by serum cotinine levels. Possible next steps include the development of risk communication messages and implementation of culturally appropriate interventions aimed at reducing tobacco dependence in rural Appalachian regions.Friday Letter Submission