Another study, published in the journal Circulation, has highlighted the health impact of second hand smoke on children and determined that exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study followed participants who took part in a study across five major Finish cities. The cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study was designed to examine the early-life risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Data was collected on childhood exposure to parental smoking between 1980-1983. Carotid ultrasound data were collected when the participants had reached adulthood in 2001 or 2007. In 2014, the researchers then measured the childhood blood cotinine levels of the participants, using samples collected and frozen in 1980. Cotinine is a major breakdown product of nicotine and can be used as a biomarker for exposure to secondhand smoke.
The research findings revealed that 84% of children from households where neither parent smoked had nondetectable cotinine levels in their samples. In contrast, only 62% of children from households where one parent smoked and 43% of children from households where both parents smoked had blood samples with nondetectable cotinine levels.
the risk of developing plaque in the carotid artery in adulthood was 1.7 times higher in participants who had been exposed to at least one parental smoker as a child compared with those whose parents had not smoked. Children whose parents smoked but did not appear to limit their child’s exposure to smoke had a four times higher risk of carotid plaque developing than those whose parents did not smoke.
“Although we cannot confirm that children with a detectable blood cotinine [level] in our study was a result of passive smoke exposure directly from their parents, we know that a child’s primary source of passive smoke exposure occurs at home,” said lead author Costan Magnussen, of the University of Tasmania, Australia.
Exposure to parental smoking in childhood is associated with increased risk of carotid atherosclerotic plaque in adulthood: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, Costan G. Magnussen, et al., Circulation, doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013485, published online 23 March 2015.