Second-hand cigarette smoke associated with raised blood pressure in boys

May 2nd, 2011 - 4:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 2 (ANI): A study has found that exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with increased blood pressure in boys.

The new research presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver, found children with elevated blood pressure are at an increased risk of having high blood pressure, or hypertension, as adults.

In this study, researchers analysed data from four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted from 1999-2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They assessed 6,421 youths’ exposure to second-hand smoke from their own reports of whether they lived with a smoker and through participants’ levels of cotinine, a substance produced when the body breaks down nicotine.

Cotinine levels are considered the best marker of tobacco smoke exposure.

Results showed that boys aged 8 to 17, who were exposed to second-hand smoke, had significantly higher systolic blood pressure than boys not exposed to tobacco smoke.

“While the increases in blood pressure observed among boys in our study may not be clinically meaningful for an individual child, they have large implications for populations,” Jill Baumgartner, PhD, lead author of the study and research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, said.

“Over one-third of children in the U.S. and globally are exposed to second-hand smoke levels similar to those associated with adverse cardiovascular effects in our study,” she revealed.

However, the study also showed that girls who were exposed to second-hand smoke had lower blood pressures than girls who were not exposed to tobacco smoke.

“These findings support several previous studies suggesting that something about female gender may provide protection from harmful vascular changes due to second-hand smoke exposure. An important next step is to understand why,” Baumgartner said.

The results of the study, the first to look at the effect of second-hand smoke exposure on blood pressure among children, suggest that the cardiovascular effects of tobacco smoke exposure may begin very early in life.

It is not known whether these changes are reversible if children are removed from smoke exposure.

“What is clear, however, is that this study adds to overwhelming evidence that preventing children’s exposure to second-hand smoke is an important public health initiative,” she said.

“The relationship between second-hand smoke exposure and blood pressure observed in our study provides further incentive for governments to support smoking bans and other legislation that protect children from second-hand smoke,” she concluded. (ANI)

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