BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: A better understanding of how poverty-related hardships affect child health could highlight remediable intervention targets. Tobacco smoke exposure may be 1 such consequence of family hardship. Our objective was to explore the relationship between family hardships and tobacco exposure, as measured by serum cotinine, a tobacco metabolite, among children hospitalized for asthma.
METHODS: We prospectively enrolled a cohort of 774 children, aged 1 to 16 years, admitted for asthma or bronchodilator-responsive wheezing. The primary outcome was detectable serum cotinine. We assessed family hardships, including 11 financial and social variables, through a survey of the child’s caregiver. We used logistic regression to evaluate associations between family hardship and detectable cotinine.
RESULTS: We had complete study data for 675 children; 57% were African American, and 74% were enrolled in Medicaid. In total, 56% of children had detectable cotinine. More than 80% of families reported ≥1 hardship, and 41% reported ≥4 hardships. Greater numbers of hardships were associated with greater odds of having detectable cotinine. Compared with children in families with no hardships, those in families with ≥4 hardships had 3.7-fold (95% confidence interval, 2.0–7.0) greater odds of having detectable serum cotinine in adjusted analyses. Lower parental income and educational attainment were also independently associated with detectable serum cotinine.
CONCLUSIONS: Family hardships are prevalent and associated with detectable serum cotinine level among children with asthma. Family hardships and tobacco smoke exposure may be possible targets for interventions to reduce health disparities.
- Accepted November 24, 2014.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics