MONDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Young kids who live with a parent who smokes face an increased risk for developing high blood pressure while still children, a new study has found.
Warning that children with high blood pressure often become adults with the same problem, the researchers suggested that secondhand smoke poses a substantial and long-term risk to the cardiovascular welfare of young children.
"The prevention of adult diseases like stroke or heart attack begins during childhood," said the study's lead author, Dr. Giacomo D. Simonetti, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital at the University of Bern, in Switzerland. "Removing any avoidable risk factors as soon as possible will help reduce the risk for heart disease later on and improve the long-term health of children."
And, he added, "Passive smoking is a risk factor. And an avoidable risk factor. So do not smoke because it is not healthy for you and for your children. Smoking increases your -- and your children's -- blood pressure."
Simonetti, who worked on the study while at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and his colleagues report their findings in the Jan. 10 online edition of Circulation.
The researchers noted that high blood pressure is the prime risk factor for heart disease. And according to the American Cancer Society, about 46,000 non-smoking Americans die from heart disease each year as a result of living with smokers and the secondhand smoke they produce.
To gauge the impact of secondhand smoke on young children, the research team examined data on 4,236 healthy boys and girls, 5 to 6 years old, who lived in southwestern Germany. Nearly 29 percent of the children's fathers and almost 21 percent of their mothers were smokers. For about 12 percent of the children, both parents smoked.
Even after accounting for other heart disease risk factors -
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