Second-hand smoke tied to meningitis risk for kids

U. NOTTINGHAM (UK) — Exposure to second-hand smoke may double the risk of invasive meningococcal disease for children, research shows.

Published in the journal BMC Public Health, the study finds that for children under five this risk was even higher, and for children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy the risk increased to three times higher.

For the study, researchers reviewed the results from 18 previous studies to examine the link between passive smoking and the risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children.


“We estimate that an extra 630 cases of childhood invasive meningococcal disease every year are directly attributable to second hand smoke in the UK alone,” says Rachael Murray researcher at the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham.

“While we cannot be sure exactly how tobacco smoke is affecting these children, the findings from this study highlight consistent evidence of the further harms of smoking around children and during pregnancy, and thus parents and family members should be encouraged to not smoke in the home or around children.”

Invasive meningococcal disease is a major cause of bacterial meningitis and can also cause severe illness when bacteria invade the blood, lungs, or joints. Meningococcal disease is particularly prevalent in children and young adults, and nearly 1 in 20 affected individuals will die despite medical attention. One in 6 will be left with a severe disability, including neurological and behavioral disorders.

Source: University of Nottingham