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Exposure to second hand smoke has serious health consequences for children. Recent studies suggest that the arteries of children exposed to passive smoking tend to become thicker. Read on to find out more about the study.

Second Hand Smoke Causes Artery Damage in Children

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Cigarette smoking accounts for almost 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. Second hand smoke (SHS) leads to the death of almost 53000 non-smokers in the U.S per year. For every 8 smokers who die due to smoking, one non-smoker dies as well, due to passive smoking.

Recent studies have shown that passive smoking can have disastrous consequences for children.

As per a study published in the European Heart Journal, SHS can lead to thicker arteries in kids. This is an alarming situation as the thickening of blood vessel walls can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes subsequently.

For the study, about 2401 children from Finland in the 3-18 years age group were selected. Similarly, about 1375 children in the 9-15 years age group were selected from Australia. All the children were observed for a period of 25 years. After 25 years, the children, who were now grown-up adults, were subjected to ultrasound scan to examine the thickness of the large carotid arteries in their neck often referred to as carotid intima media thickness (IMT). A higher thickness of this artery implies that it can become blocked subsequently, leading to a stroke or a heart attack. The main purpose of the study, which went on for about 25 years, was to ascertain the impact of passive smoking on children.

It was found that the adults, who were exposed to second hand smoke when they were children, especially when both the parents were smokers, had thicker arteries in comparison to the adults who were not exposed to passive smoke.

The key findings of the study are listed below:

  • The thickness of the carotid artery (IMT) was found to be the higher in the grown-up adults who were exposed to passive smoking by both the parents in comparison to the grown-up adults who were not exposed to passive smoking.
  • Passive smoking due to one-parent smoking did not have much effect on the thickness of the carotid artery.
  • A greater exposure to parental passive smoking over a period of three years considerably increased the chances of greater carotid IMT in grown-ups.
  • The study also found that the vascular age in children exposed to both parents smoking was about 3.3 years more in comparison to their peers who were not exposed to smoke.

The main conclusion of the study was that efforts should be made to discourage smoking in adults in order to curtail the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the younger generation. The study further emphasizes the fact that exposure to passive smoke causes a direct and an irreversible damage to health of our children. Parents or would-be parents should decide to quit smoking as this will not only improve their own health but will also protect their children from the hazards of passive smoking in the future.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm.163.2.2006009#.U1Vcnf
  • www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)61388-8/fulltext