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Secondhand smoke linked to bladder problems in kids

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Parents who smoke cigarettes at home are putting their children at risk for bladder problems including urinary urgency, increased urinary frequency and incontinence, according to a new study presented in Atlanta this week at the 107th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA).

“We have multiple children who present to our pediatric urology practice with urinary frequency, urinary urgency and leakage and since we know that second hand smoke is a bladder irritant and since we know it’s related to the development of bladder cancer, we decided to see if there was a correlation between the development of bladder dysfunction and having been exposed to secondhand smoke,” Dr. Kelly Johnson, from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, told Reuters Health.

In their study, Dr. Johnson and colleagues analyzed survey responses from 45 children who came to their clinic with irritative bladder storage symptoms. Parents of children ages four to 10 completed the survey on environmental tobacco smoke exposure and storage symptoms on their child’s behalf. Children ages 11 to 17 completed the surveys on their own.

Storage symptom severity was quantified by clinical exam. Storage symptoms were moderate to severe in 24 children and mild or very mild in 21.

The study found that exposure to secondhand smoke was associated with worsening of storage symptoms and that children with greater exposure to secondhand smoke had higher symptom severity scores compared with children who were not exposed.

Of the children with moderate or severe symptoms, 23% had mothers who smoked and 50% had exposure to secondhand smoke in the car on a regular basis. In contrast, none of the children with very mild or mild scores had mothers who smoked, and none were subjected to secondhand smoke in the car.

Between the ages of four and 10, the relationship between symptom severity and secondhand smoke exposure was particularly pronounced (t-test, p=0.014; ANOVA, p=0.008).

“When children present with complaints of urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence the doctor should ask about secondhand smoke exposure and when it’s appropriate and when the parents are agreeable, we should be offering patients information about quitting smoking because we did find that there certainly is a correlation between secondhand smoke exposure and these complaints,” Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Anthony Atala, who chairs the Department of Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina told Reuters Health, “These data presented today should be added to the indisputable evidence that parents shouldn’t smoke around their children.”

He added, “Secondhand smoke is a leading cause of preventable death in the US and beyond conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and asthma, we now know that smoking has a negative impact on urinary symptoms, particularly in young children.”