Tobacco exposure raises hospital readmission rate for children with asthma

February 12, 2014

Children admitted to the hospital for asthma are likely to be readmitted within a year if they are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to a study led by Dr. Judie Howrylak and Dr. Adam Spanier of Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The study appears in Pediatrics.

Researchers interviewed the primary caregivers of 776 children regarding tobacco exposure. They also collected saliva samples from the children and tested for cotinine, which directly indicates if the child has been exposed to secondhand smoke.

Tobacco exposure data, from both the caregiver and saliva samples, was available for 619 children. Of the children whose caregivers reported no tobacco exposure, almost 70 percent tested positive for cotinine in the saliva. The cotinine levels were strongly associated with readmission rates for asthma or wheezing. Within a year of their admission, 17 percent of the children were readmitted.

To read the study, visit

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (1R01A188116) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (1K23ES016304).

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 12, 2014