Smokers, don t gas your kids

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As if the health hazards of smoking weren t reason enough to avoid the habit, extensive exposure to second-hand smoke has also been known to have adverse health effects, particularly for children who live with a smoking parent. Now, a new study presented at the ATS 2012 International Conference finds that the respiratory symptoms we often see in children who live with a smoker may actually extend into adulthood.

Researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed data from almost 400 individuals who enrolled in the Tucson Epidemiological Study of Airway Obstructive Disease (TESAOD) as children. This prospective study began in 1972, and followed up with participants every two years until 1996. About half of these children were exposed to second-hand smoke before age 15. The researchers found that, even if these kids did not end up becoming smokers themselves, exposure to parental smoking in childhood made it more likely that respiratory symptoms, including persistent wheezing, asthma, and chronic cough, would continue into adulthood.

The researchers also note that some of these respiratory symptoms could potentially lead to even more serious problems, such as reduced lung function, as these individuals grow older. The study adds to mounting evidence on the negative health effects, both to smokers themselves and on those around them, of smoking. To read up on these adverse effects, check out the ACSH publication The Irreversible Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.