Highly stressed new moms likelier to expose infants to secondhand smoke at home

A new study has demonstrated that mothers, who experience higher levels of social stressors, are least likely to have rules that totally ban smoking in the home, which could expose their infants to secondhand smoke and increase health risks.

ANI| Last Updated: Mar 01, 2015, 23:50 PM IST

Washington: A new study has demonstrated that mothers, who experience higher levels of social stressors, are least likely to have rules that totally ban smoking in the home, which could expose their infants to secondhand smoke and increase health risks.

The study conducted at University of Kansas (KU) showed that mothers with a high level of pre-natal social stressors including possibly less control over their own housing situation or economic distress had 2.5 times higher odds to have only a partial or no restriction on smoking in their home than those with no stressors.

Jarron Saint Onge, a KU assistant professor of sociology and the study's lead author said that even if one take out all of those other factors, if one was dealing with all of these notions of disadvantage that was tied up in low education and low income, one will see that if they can address the stressors, one was going to increase the amount of people who restrict smoking at home.

The researchers examined data for 118,062 women whom had recently given birth in the United States and participated in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System from 2004 to 2010. As anti-smoking sentiment in recent years has led to many restrictions on public smoking, the study found that it had also greatly influenced the prevalence of home smoking rules.

Saint Onge said that nobody wants to smoke around their child, so it was these broader social forces that were at play. It's about recognizing at what point one compromised to forgo smoking rules in your household.

Saint Onge said because members of those groups reported facing significant stressors that may compromise social control, self-efficacy or power within a household context, which could possibly leave them powerless to change established and immutable smoking habits. Also, smoking, which is a health-compromising behavior, might also be a coping mechanism for people with resource-limited social or environmental settings. The study shows how stress appears to have particularly strong effects for current smokers.

The study is published in January in the American Journal of Public Health.