Citing the significant health risks, doctors have called for a complete ban on young people in all cars, as well as laws making it illegal for children to be taken to places where members of the public congregate.
The Royal College of Physicians has called for the measures as part of a full review into the health impacts of passive exposure to secondary children on the population at large.
The impacts include noise pollution, increased accident and illness rates, and the increased incidence of frustration, depression and bankruptcy.
An RCP report says that every year unnecessary exposure to children is responsible for over 20,000 minor injuries and some 22,000 cases of hypertension, as well as 200 fiscal heart-attacks and at least 20 cases of rage-related aneurysms.
It claims child-related illnesses in adults account for more than 300,000 visits per year to GPs, and costs the NHS billions of pounds.
Dr Isay Banitall, of the RCP, said, “It is high time that a full, in-depth research project was carried out into the health implications of children in cars and other public places.”
“For example, our initial figures indicate that the presence of two arguing children in the back of your car is a greater threat to concentration and awareness than being twice the legal drink-drive limit and even more distracting than using a mobile phone.”
“The presence of children in a vehicle make the likelihood of serious injury some 43.7% higher than when the occupants of the car are all non-squabbling adults.”
“It is also difficult to quantify the secondary effects of children in other areas – for example, there is some evidence to indicate that the presence of screaming, uncontrolled brats in pub restaurants is directly linked to almost a million cases of hearing loss and indigestion.”
“We would therefore recommend the imposition of a ‘child area’, outside the building and well clear of the entrances, where those who wish to have children can congregate.”
A Department of Health spokesman welcomed the RCP report, and pointed out that the recent Budget went a long way in applying tax increases with the long-term goal of making children completely unacceptable in public.
However, he acknowledged that a blanket ban on children, however desirable, would be neither practically, politically nor fiscally possible.