Kids’ ear infections drop dramatically — partly because of drop in smoking

Fascinating story I read yesterday.

Health officials report that over the last 15 years, ear infections among children have dropped a whopping 30 percent. Wow!

One of the reasons ear infections have dropped so much is believed to be a concurrent drop in smoking (other factors are mentioned, but I believe the drop in smoking is a big one.). Not only are fewer people smoking, but more people who do smoke have bought a clue about not smoking around their kids.

I had constant ear infections as a kid, and still have problems with my ears today. I had my tonsils taken out, adenoids removed, tubes put in my ears. Didn’t do any good. Because back then, people didn’t make the connection between secondhand smoke and ear infections in kids. (Though I still shake my head that my parents could never figure out that their six packs a day were contributing to my chronic bronchitis.)

It’s pretty much taken as fact now, except by the Forces.org weasels, that secondhand smoke is a huge contributor to kids’ ear infections. This article explains the mechanism pretty well. Kids get ear infections often times after colds and flus, because the lining in ear tissue would become inflamed. Inflamed tissue then would become more easily infected.

Well, cigarette smoke causes the same kind of tissue inflammation in kids’ ears as colds and flus, making kids more vulnerable to infections.

According to the CDC, about 88 percent of nonsmokers (including children) were being exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke in 1990. That figure dropped to 40 percent in 2007.

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