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America's Children: Data on Child Well-Being, 2010

Learn more about the most recently available major federal statistics on children and youth in these areas: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.

Chart: Secondhand Smoke: Children Ages 4-11 with Blood Cotinine* Levels, 1998-2008. Any detectable cotinine: 1988-1994 87.7%; 1999-2000 64.4%; 2001-2002 55.1%; 2003-2004 63.7%; 2005-2006 51.4%; 2007-2008 52.6%. Blood cotinine more than 1.0 ng/mL: 1988-1994 25.7%; 1999-2000 17.7%; 2001-2002 18.1%; 2003-2004 18.7%; 2005-2006 12.3%; 2007-2008 16.7%. *Cotinine is a marker for recent exposure to secondhand smoke.

This feature highlights data from the Physical Environment and Safety section of America's Children in Brief: the percentage of children with specified blood cotinine levels during selected years from 1988 to 2008. Continine, a breakdown product of nicotine, is a marker for recent exposure to secondhand smoke. As the number of public places allowing smoking has declined, so has the percentage of children with detectable blood continine levels.3 In 2007–2008, 53 percent of children ages 4–11 had detectable blood continine levels (at or above 0.05 ng/mL), down from 64 percent in 1999–2000 and 88 percent in 1988–1994. The percentage of children with blood continine levels above 1.0 ng/mL, which indicates high levels of secondhand smoke exposure at home or other places, declined from 26 percent in 1988–1994 to 18 percent in 1999–2000.4 The percentage did not change significantly from 1999–2000 to 2007–2008.

America's Children In Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2010 was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a working group of 22 federal agencies that collect, analyze, and report data on issues related to children and families. The report groups the most recently available major federal statistics on children and youth under several domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. The purpose of the report is to provide statistical information on children and families in a nontechnical, easy-to-use format in order to stimulate discussion among data providers, policymakers, and members of the public.

Children's exposure to indoor air pollutants can have a substantial impact on their health.1 Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the probability of lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, other respiratory conditions, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).2

NOTE: "Any detectable continine" indicates blood continine levels at or above 0.05 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), the detectable level of continine in the blood in 1988–1994. continine levels are reported for nonsmoking children only. The average (geometric mean) blood continine level in children living in homes where someone smoked was 1.0 ng/mL in 1988–1994 and in 2003–2006.

Chart: Secondhand Smoke: Children Ages 4-17 with Blood Cotinine* Levels, Selected Years 1998-2008.

Data source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

  1. Esmen, N.A. (1985). The status of indoor air pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives, 62, 259–265.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/.
  3. Eriksen, M.P., and Cerak, R.L. (2008). The diffusion and impact of clean indoor air laws. Annual Review of Public Health, 29, 171–185.
  4. Mannino, D.M., Caraballo, R., Benowitz, N., and Repace, J. (2001). Predictors of continine levels in U.S. children: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. CHEST, 120, 718–724. Marano, C., Schober, S.E., Brody, D.J., and Zhang, C. (2009). Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure among children and adolescents: United States, 2003–2006. Pediatrics, 124 (5): 1299–1305.

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  • Page last reviewed: July 15, 2010
  • Page last updated: July 15, 2010
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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