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Passive Smoking Makes Kids Prone To Respiratory Illness

Washington: A new study by researchers at the University of Southern California has found that children with a certain genetic makeup are at an increased risk of chest infections// and other respiratory illnesses if they are exposed to passive smoking.

According to the study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, children who have a variation in a key gene and who live in a home with smokers are four times more likely to miss school days because of lower-respiratory illness than children who are free from the variation and live in smoke-free homes.

'Parents or others who choose to smoke around children are causing illness and school absences, potentially affecting how well the children do in school,' said lead researcher Frank D. Gilliland.

The researchers examined the gene called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha. This gene is linked to the body's inflammatory response to chemicals such as those found in second-hand smoke. About 24 percent of the children had a variation in at least one of their two copies of the TNF-alpha gene.

They collected a variety of information about the children, from their history of asthma, if any, to their exposure to smoking and allergens. They also collected school absence reports and took DNA samples from the children, and found that 20 percent of children lived with second-hand smoke, and nearly six percent of children lived with two or more smokers.

Children who breathed second-hand smoke at home were 51 percent more likely than those in non-smoking homes to call in sick from school due to a lower-respiratory illness, regardless of their genetic makeup.

But smoke's influence was even more pronounced when researchers began looking at TNF-alpha. Each person has two copies of the TNF-alpha gene. In one important spot on the gene, some people have the base known as 'G'; others have the base known as 'A.' So when both copies of the
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