The effect of passive smoking on respiratory symptoms of children aged 5 to 11 years was investigated in over 4000 English children and nearly 800 Scottish children participating in the National Study of Health and Growth in 1982. After adjusting for associations of respiratory symptoms with age, sex, and a number of potentially confounding variables, significant associations were found of wheeze, both occasional and persistent, day or night cough, and bronchitis attacks with number of cigarettes smoked by parents at home for English children and for occasional wheeze in Scottish children. Asthma attacks and cough first thing in the morning showed positive but not statistically significant associations in English children. The presence of at least one condition was statistically significant in both English and Scottish children. The largest relative risk for exposure to 20 cigarettes a day compared to no exposure was 1.60 for persistent wheeze in English children (95% confidence interval 1.17-2.18).
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