Kids exposed to passive smoking are at an increased risk of catching infectious diseases and have to be admitted to hospital, reveals a new study.
The study has found that children exposed to second hand tobacco smoke increase their likelihood of developing range of infectious illnesses, such as meningococcal disease, and not just respiratory illness.
Exposure to smoke in the first few months of life was most detrimental among children with low birth weight or had been born prematurely.
The team looked at the relationship between second hand smoke exposure and first admission to hospital for any infectious illness for 7,402 children born in Hong Kong in April and May 1997. The children were followed until they were eight.
The findings revealed that The earlier the exposure to smoke the more profound the effect with exposure to second hand smoke during the first six months of life thus increasing the likelihood of being admitted to hospital for an infectious disease during the eight years by almost 45 per cent.
Among those with low birth weight 75 per cent were more likely to be admitted to hospital with an infectious disease during the eight years and those who were premature being twice as likely.
The authors suggest that second hand smoke might affect the immune as well as the respiratory system of young children.
"An excess risk of severe morbidity from both respiratory and other infections for all infants exposed to second hand smoke suggests that such exposure, as well as acting via direct contact with the respiratory tract, may also affect the immune system," said the authors.
They add that premature infants and those with a low birth rate might be more at risk because their respiratory and immune systems were less well developed.
The study appears online ahead of print in Tobacco Control.