A recent study finds children with sickle cell disease are more likely to end up in the hospital with a sickle cell crisis if they live in households where people smoke.
Study after study has confirmed exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can harm the health of nonsmokers. It is found that exposure to smoke affects the way the blood handles oxygen, leading to a vast array of problems.
In sickle cell disease, flare ups are also related to blood oxygen problems hence researchers from the university of California speculated exposure to secondhand smoke could either cause these acute flare ups, known as sickle cell crises, or make them worse. The study involved 52 children between ages 2 and 18. All had sickle cell disease. Twenty-two of the children were exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis. None of the children smoked themselves. Researchers followed the children for two years, recording the number of sickle cell crises they had that required hospitalization.
Over the course of the study, patients exposed to secondhand smoke were about twice as likely as those not exposed to be hospitalized with a crisis. The finding held true even after researchers adjusted the results to consider other factors that could have increased the children's risk for a flare up.
Thus researchers say their data supports the hypothesis that children and adolescents with SCD who live in smoking households have more frequent sickle cell crises requiring hospitalization than do those who live in nonsmoking households.They believe programs aimed at reducing secondhand smoke exposure among these children could help reduce morbidity from the disease.