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21-03-2013 | Article

Childhood adverse events increase risk for smoking


Free abstract

medwireNews: Parental and household problems and physical abuse during childhood are associated with smoking in adulthood, say Canadian researchers.

The association was seen in both men and women, although the team notes that some gender differences were apparent in the links between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and smoking.

Esme Fuller-Thomson, from the University of Toronto in Ontario, and colleagues suggest that "gender-specific anti-smoking messaging and prevention programmes and policies could be targeted at youth who have been exposed to ACEs."

They add: "Paediatricians, family practice doctors and other health workers, as well as child welfare and other social service professionals, could provide targeted smoking prevention interventions to this particularly vulnerable subgroup of youth."

The team examined data on 11,506 women and 7850 men, aged at least 18 years, from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The participants were asked about six adverse childhood experiences, in addition to which their socioeconomic status, health behaviors, social support, marital status, and mental health in adulthood were assessed.

Female participants were more likely than male participants to have never smoked, and be older, white, have completed some postsecondary education, and to have anxiety or depressive disorders. Women were, in childhood, more likely than men to have lived with an alcoholic and to have been sexually abused, but less likely to have lived with a drug abuser or been physically or verbally assaulted.

After adjusting for confounders, the team found that living with an alcoholic or a drug abuser, parental divorce, and parental physical abuse were associated with an increased likelihood of smoking among men, at odds ratios of 1.53, 1.58, 1.31, and 1.19, respectively.

Among women, living with an alcoholic or drug abuser, parental divorce, sexual abuse, parental physical abuse, and parental verbal abuse were all significantly associated with smoking, at odds ratios of 1.41, 1.59, 1.39, 1.36, 1.29, and 1.14, respectively.

Notably, a history of anxiety disorder was significantly associated with smoking among women, at an odds ratio of 1.22, but not among men.

Fuller-Thomson et al conclude in Public Health: "The present study highlights the need for further research that can help to elucidate the potential mechanisms that link the various ACEs with smoking."

By Liam Davenport, medwireNews Reporter