Parental Smoking Ups BP of Kids Aged Four and Five

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The preschool children of smokers have a 20% increased risk of having blood pressure in the highest normal value even after other risk factors are adjusted for, new research from Germany shows [1]. This is the first study to show that breathing tobacco smoke increases the BP of children as young as four or five, say Dr Giacomo D Simonetti (University of Berne, Switzerland) and colleagues in their paper published online January 10, 2011 in Circulation.

Simonetti, who conducted the research while working at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, told heartwire : “Parental smoking is not only negative for children’s lung function, it poses a risk to their future cardiovascular health. We know childhood BP tracks to adult BP, so the most important conclusion here is that if you avoid risk factors–such as secondhand smoke–as a child, you will have lower BP and probably lower BP values as an adult.”

The findings “complete the picture of tobacco exposure interfering with cardiovascular maturation and health from gestation to adulthood,” say Simonetti and colleagues. He adds that parents should be counseled to stop smoking, as the benefits would likely extend even to the youngest family members. And at the very least, a strictly smoke-free environment should be implemented in the home.