Smokers’ Children Carry More Harmful Bacteria

Streptococcus pneumoniae
bacteria; © PHIL

Researchers in Israel conducted a surveillance study of more than 200 young children and their mothers. They swabbed the noses and throats of the subjects to determine bacterial carriage rates, and then analysed the data based on the children’s and mothers’ exposure to smoking. Seventy-six percent of the children exposed to tobacco smoke carried pneumococci, compared to 60 percent of those not exposed.

Exposed children were also more likely than non-exposed children to carry pneumococcal serotypes responsible for most of the invasive S. pneumoniae disease. In the mothers, differences were also noted - 32 percent of mothers who smoked carried S. pneumoniae, compared with 15 percent of mothers who were exposed to smoking and twelve percent of mothers not exposed to smoking.

Higher carriage rates of bacteria can translate to higher rates of infection, according to lead author David Greenberg, MD. “Since carriage in the nose is the first step in causing disease, the increased rate of carriage suggests more frequent occurrence of the disease. Indeed, active and passive smoking are associated with increased rate of respiratory infectious diseases,” Greenberg said.

The researchers hope their data will persuade parents to quit smoking, particularly around children. “Smoking parents, especially smoking mothers jeopardise their children’s health” by putting them at higher risk for invasive and respiratory infections, Dr. Greenberg said. “This should definitely encourage the parents not to smoke in the presence of their child, especially if this child has predisposing factors such as asthma.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)