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Secondhand Smoke Hikes Tots' Risk of Heart Disease
Date:3/13/2008

Younger children are more affected than teens, a new study finds,,,,

THURSDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Secondhand smoke causes signs of cardiovascular damage in children, especially the very youngest, new research contends.

The findings, which focused on children from 2 to 14 years old, showed that environmental tobacco exposure (second-hand smoke) caused increased markers of inflammation and signs of vascular injury, suggesting an increased risk of heart disease. The youngest children appeared to be more affected than teens.

"Toddlers are smokers by default," said one of the study's authors, John Bauer, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Medicine at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio. "Forty percent of toddlers in our study had nicotine content that in adults would suggest that they were active smokers. But, an active smoker has a filter on cigarettes. The toxicity from smoke that is inhaled in the atmosphere is worse because there's no filter."

Results of the study were to be presented Thursday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention meeting, in Colorado Springs.

Bauer and his colleagues took hair and blood samples from 125 children. Fifty-seven were between the ages of 2 and 5; 68 were between 9 and 14. Hair samples were used to measure nicotine exposure, and blood samples were used to look for a type of cell called an endothelial progenitor cell (EPC). These cells replenish the endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels) and provide clues to levels of cardiovascular health.

The researchers also asked the parents how many smokers children had been exposed to in a 24-hour period.

Children in the youngest age group had almost six times the average nicotine levels than older children did. Toddlers had an average nicotine level of 12.68 nanograms per milligram of hair, while older kid
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