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10-01-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Parental smoking raises preschoolers’ BP


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MedWire News: Parental smoking may raise the blood pressure (BP) levels of healthy children under the age of 5 years, researchers suggest.

This in turn may raise the child's risk for future cardiovascular (CV) disease.

Giacomo Simonetti (Bern University Hospital, Switzerland) and team say: "The findings of this study add an important pediatric perspective to the issue of prevention and containment of active and passive smoking."

"Implementing smoke-free environments at home and in public places may provide a long-term CV benefit even to young children," they add.

The researchers measured the BP levels of 4236 preschool children with a mean age of 5.7 years, and analyzed the smoking habits of their parents, via questionnaire.

In all, smoking was reported by 28.5% of fathers, 20.7% of mothers, and 11.9% of parent sets (both parents).

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, show that children exposed to parental smoking had slightly higher BP levels than those with no parental smoking exposure, with mean systolic (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) levels of 100 versus 101 mmHg (p=0.0001) and 62 versus 62.5 mmHg (p<0.05), respectively.

In addition, the number of cigarettes smoked by mothers, but not fathers, correlated with the SBP levels of children (p<0.03).

"This might be due to the fact that mothers are more likely to smoke predominantly at home, whereas fathers tend to consume the bulk of cigarettes at the workplace," the team suggests.

After adjustment for potential cofounders, including parental hypertension and child's birthweight, Simonetti and team found that parental smoking independently affected SBP levels (p=0.001).

Specifically, children with a smoking parent were 21% more likely than children without a smoking parent to have SBP in the top 15% of levels for the general population of their age.

"Because BP differences related to risk factors also tend to amplify from infancy to childhood, the observed impact of modifiable risk factors even at preschool age is a major concern," say Simonetti and colleagues.

They add that comprehensive interventions to encourage lifestyle changes among all family members may be an important strategy for lowering the CV disease risk of future generations.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor

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