DESPITE the stereotypical image of smokers being irresponsible parents, it turns out that they are more enthusiastic than non-smoking parents about testing their children at age 1 and 2 for exposure to tobacco smoke.
A survey of 477 parents in the US showed that 70 per cent of non-smokers and 74 per cent of smokers supported the screening if done alongside existing mandatory tests for blood counts and lead exposure (Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-2462).
Jonathan Winickoff at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, and lead author, is pushing for the US government to adopt the test, which screens blood for a nicotine breakdown product called cotinine. He argues that evidence of exposure will strengthen smokers’ resolve to quit. Likewise, a positive test for an infant with non-smoking parents may prompt them to look for the source.
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