JOURNAL ARTICLE

Parental smoking behaviour and effects of tobacco smoke on children's health in Finland and Russia

Timo T Hugg, Maritta S Jaakkola, Risto O Ruotsalainen, Vadim J Pushkarev, Jouni J K Jaakkola
European Journal of Public Health 2008, 18 (1): 55-62
17569700

BACKGROUND: There is little information on potential differences in smoking behaviour of parents between Finland and Russia and on the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure on allergic and respiratory diseases among Finnish and Russian children. The aim of the study was to compare the smoking behaviour of parents and school children and to assess the relations of tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy and childhood with occurrence of allergic diseases and respiratory infections among school children.

METHODS: We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study in the neighbour towns across the border of Imatra in Finland and Svetogorsk in Russia. The study population consisted of 512 Finnish and 581 Russian school children aged 7-16 years (response rate 79%).

RESULTS: Children's tobacco smoke exposure differed markedly between Finland and Russia. The risk of asthma was particularly related to high maternal smoking exposure during pregnancy (adjusted OR 3.51, 95% CI 1.00-12.3), infancy (3.34, 1.23-9.07) and currently (3.27, 1.26-8.48), and the risk of common cold was related to high combined parental smoking during infancy (1.83, 1.06-3.17) in Finnish children. Among Russian children allergic conjunctivitis was related to maternal smoking during infancy (4.53, 1.49-13.8) and currently (2.82, 1.07-7.44).

CONCLUSIONS: Smoking behaviour of parents and ETS exposure during childhood differed markedly between Finland and Russia. Asthma was particularly increased in relation to high exposure to maternal smoking in Finland. The results suggest that more efforts should be directed to reducing tobacco smoke exposure of children in both Finland and Russia. (250 words).

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