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Race Affects Tobacco Absorption in Children

e and at the 6-month visit. These dosimeters were removed at the 6-month and 1-year visits, and were used to objectively measure each child’s level of ETS exposure.

No racial differences were reported in levels of ETS exposure outside of the home or in air nicotine levels at the 6-month or 1-year study visits. But, results indicated that while African-American children spent less time exposed to ETS, they showed significantly higher levels of cotinine compared to Caucasian children. On average, serum cotinine levels in the African-American participants were 32 percent higher than in the Caucasian participants, and hair cotinine levels were 4 times that of the Caucasian participants.

“Previous studies of adult smokers, as well as cross-sectional studies of nonsmokers have demonstrated similar racial differences in serum cotinine, however, we were surprised at the magnitude of the racial differences in the hair continine,” said Dr. Wilson. “African-American children may “handle” environmental tobacco smoke differently than white children, so these results raise questions as to whether there are racial differences in other tobacco toxicants, as well.”

“Exposure to tobacco smoke is dangerous for everyone, regardless of age or race,” said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “These findings underline the importance of eliminating environmental tobacco smoke in every setting, especially those where children are present.”
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