2nd Hand Smoke Could Raise Blood Pressure Risk in Kids

Children living with a parent who <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">smokes are at an increased risk for developing high blood pressure when young, according to an emerging study, writes Bloomberg Businessweek. The finding is also a warning that these children will typically become adults with high blood pressure, which the authors suggest could lead to significant and long-term risks to children’s cardiovascular health, added Bloomberg Businessweek.

“The prevention of adult diseases like stroke or heart attack begins during childhood,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Giacomo D. Simonetti, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, quoted Bloomberg Businessweek. “Removing any avoidable risk factors as soon as possible will help reduce the risk for heart disease later on and improve the long-term health of children,” added Dr. Simonetti.

“Passive smoking is a risk factor. And an avoidable risk factor. So do not smoke because it is not healthy for you and for your children. Smoking increases your—and your children’s—blood pressure,” Dr. Simonetti warned. The team worked on the research, which appears in the January 10th online edition of Circulation, while at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, said Bloomberg Businessweek.

Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 substances, including in excess of 50 known or suspected carcinogens, and is linked to many diseases in adults and children, such as sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease, and lung and sinus cancers. Some 126 million nonsmokers—60 percent of all U.S. non-smokers—are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Research has also linked secondhand smoke to hearing loss; psychological problems that increase with increased exposure, mood alterations, stress-hormone regulation, and depression; immune response interferences; chronic rhinosinusitis; difficulties in conceiving, pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and infant health problems; and puts women at a significantly higher risk for the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

According to the American Cancer Society, some 46,000 nonsmoking Americans die from heart disease annually as a result of living with smokers, said Bloomberg Businessweek. Also, notes the research team, high blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for heart disease, added Bloomberg Businessweek.

The team looked at information on 4,236 healthy boys and girls, from ages five to six, who lived in southwestern Germany, said Bloomberg Businessweek. About 29 percent of the children’s fathers and nearly 21 percent of the children’s mothers smoked; both parents smoked in about 12 percent of the cases, wrote Bloomberg Businessweek.

After accounting for other cardiac risk factors, parental smoking presented as an independent risk factor for high blood pressure in the children, the study concluded, wrote Bloomberg Businessweek. Children were 21 percent likelier to experience higher systolic blood pressure readings with levels in the top 15 percentile. Systolic, or top reading levels, correspond to heart contractions, noted Bloomberg Businessweek.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a cardiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, commented on the finding saying, quoted Bloomberg Businessweek, “We certainly know that secondhand smoke is dangerous and associated with adverse consequences…. In adults, there’s certainly higher heart attack and stroke risk, as well as lung disease. And it’s previously been known that secondhand smoke can be dangerous to children’s lungs. This look at its impact on blood pressure just reinforces the notion that there’s no acceptable exposure to secondhand smoke when it comes to infants and young children.”

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