Maternal smoking and medical expenditures for childhood respiratory illness

Am J Public Health. 1997 Feb;87(2):205-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.2.205.


Objectives: This study sought to assess the association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure from maternal smoking and health care expenditures for respiratory conditions among US children.

Methods: Multivariate analysis of the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey was undertaken with a sample that included 2624 children 5 years of age and under.

Results: After analysis that controlled for various sociodemographic factors associated with health care usage, respiratory-related health care expenditures among children whose mothers smoke were found to be significantly higher than those expenditures for children of nonsmoking mothers. Truncated regression techniques were used to estimate that maternal smoking was associated with increased health care expenditures averaging (in 1995 dollars) $120 per year for children aged 5 years and under and $175 per year for children aged 2 years and under. Our analysis indicates that passive smoking was associated with $661 million in annual medical expenditures in 1987, representing 19% of all expenditures for childhood respiratory conditions.

Conclusions: Maternal smoking is associated with significantly increased child health expenditures and contributes significantly to the overall cost of medical care.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / economics*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / therapy
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution