Child’s Surgery Motivates Parents to Quit Smoking




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No parent wishes surgery for his or her child. However, for many parents, their child’s surgery is a motivator to quit smoking. Unfortunately, the reason for quitting does not ensure success.

Mayo Clinic Study

A recent study by researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, published in the July issue of Anesthesiology, evaluated 1,112 children who lived in a home where at least one parent smoked. The study examined the relationship of the parent or child’s surgical history in the past 12 months and the effect on smoking behavior.


Researchers already knew that smokers who have surgery themselves are more likely to attempt quitting. The question was if that behavior extended to parents of children undergoing surgery. What the study found was that parents were more likely to make an attempt to quit smoking within the past 12 months if their child had surgery during that time. However, the success rate was not as high as it was when it was the parent having the surgery.

Anesthesia Risk

Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke, and they experience the greatest exposure to it at home. A case report published in the February issue of the AANA Journal concluded that children exposed to secondhand smoke were three-and-a-half times more likely to experience breathing problems after undergoing general anesthesia than children who were not exposed. The report further states that the nearly 60% of American children who are routinely exposed to second hand smoke at home are more prone to airway and pulmonary complications after surgery.

Authors of the Mayo Clinic study hope physicians use the parents’ desire to quit smoking as a teachable moment that supports parents in their efforts.

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