Results from a new study were released on Monday that shows that even low levels of exposure to tobacco smoke are harmful to children's heart health. Frequent exposure to environmental tobacco smoke among 13-year-olds is associated with an increased risk of future blood vessel hardening and greater risks of other heart disease factors, according to new research published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association. The study of 494 children showed that those with higher levels of exposure to secondhand smoke from ages 8 to 13 had, by age 13, significantly increased blood vessel wall thickness and functioning problems, both of which are precursors to arterial structural changes and hardening.
The research adds to a growing body of evidence indicating that secondhand smoke has objectively measurable effects on children’s heart health.
“These findings suggest that children should not face exposure to tobacco smoke at all,” said Katariina Kallio, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and research fellow at the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku in Turku, Finland. “Even a little exposure to tobacco smoke may be harmful for blood vessels. We need to provide children a smoke-free environment.”