DENVER Exposure to secondhand smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with increased blood pressure in boys, according to new research being presented Sunday, May 1, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Denver.
Children with elevated blood pressure are at increased risk of having high blood pressure, or hypertension, as adults. Hypertension is associated with a higher risk of heart and kidney disease and is the third leading contributor to illness and death worldwide. Yet, knowledge of risks factors for elevated blood pressure among children is limited.
Studies in non-smoking adults have shown associations between both secondhand smoke and outdoor air pollution with increased blood pressure, but no research has looked at this relationship in children.
In this study, researchers analyzed 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 secondhand 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 ages 8 to 17 years old who were exposed to secondhand 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. Over one-third of children in the U.S. and globally are exposed to secondhand smoke levels similar to those associated with adverse cardiovascular effects in our study," said Jill Baumgartner, PhD, lead author of the study and research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.
|Contact: Susan Martin|
American Academy of Pediatrics