Date of Conferral





Public Health


Patrick Tschida


Despite advances in health promotion through efforts to reduce tobacco smoking, tobacco-related health conditions have continued to be significant. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been identified as a health risk also in addition to infant health risks related to maternal smoking. In contrast, breastfeeding has been found to promote infant health and is strongly encouraged. Despite literature supporting both of these statements, the combined effects of both breastfeeding and maternal smoking on infant wellbeing have not been delineated. Otitis media represents a common health problem among infants and young children. Tobacco exposure has been shown to increase its incidence while breastfeeding has been shown to reduce its occurrence. In the current study, a consecutive sample of all infants less than 5 years of age with otitis media and breastfed for at least 6 months was collected from a busy urban clinic for analysis. A survey tool was administered to those meeting study criteria. Primary analysis examined the odds ratio of developing otitis media among breastfed infants between those whose mothers smoked tobacco and those whose mothers did not. As a result, the association between the protective effects of breastfeeding and the detrimental effects of maternal smoking was evaluated in relation to the development of otitis media. Secondary variables including demographics, family history, past medical and birth history, and secondhand smoke exposure were also assessed. Results failed to demonstrate a significant difference in otitis media between the 2 cohorts in this study, and of the secondary variables, only cranio-facial deformities and/or a family history of these conditions resulted in higher otitis media occurrence. Further study with larger populations with higher tobacco use rates may offer additional insights into this matter.