Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Passive exposure to tobacco smoke and health outcomes among Aboriginal children from urban NSW: SEARCH study (#338)

Bridgette McNamara 1 , Lina Gubhaju 1 , Emily Banks 2 , Jennifer Bell 3 , Yvett Wright 4 , Sandra Eades 1
  1. Baker International Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  2. Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  3. Riverina Medical & Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Wagga Wagga, NSW
  4. Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, NSW

Background: High rates of passive exposure to tobacco smoke by Aboriginal children are concerning. Only limited data on smoking among carers and the associated health outcomes for children are available for Aboriginal families in urban areas.

Objective; To identify prevalence, determinants and associated health risks of passive exposure to tobacco smoke among urban Aboriginal children from NSW.

Methods: Survey data from the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEACRH), for 1265 children, from five Aboriginal Health Services in NSW have been examined. Generalied Estimating Equations were used to assess age- and sex- adjusted prevalence ratios for health outcomes by smoke exposure category.

Results: 64% of children lived in a household where the primary carer smoked and/or people smoked inside the house. Encouragingly, 36% of children lived in households where the primary carer did not smoke and no household members smoked inside. By contrast, 33% of children lived with a primary carer who smoked and household members who smoked inside the home. Children exposed to passive tobacco smoke were more likely to have been treated for recurring chest infection [adjusted PR 1.9 (1.2, 3.0 95%CI)] and treated for ear infection [adjusted PR 1.9 (1.3, 2.9 95%CI)] in the last month. No difference was found in asthma among the participants. 

Conclusions: This study shows the prevalence of smoking among carers and child health outcomes, addressing the current deficit in data from urban areas. Preliminary analyses demonstrate adverse effects of passive smoking on child health outcomes. Study results provide important local data to motivate and inform development of targeted strategies to support smoking cessation and smoke-free homes in urban Aboriginal communities.