The study offers a growing evidence that exposure to smoking from parents has a lasting effect on children’s cardiovascular health in adulthood.
“For parents who are trying to quit smoking, they may be able to reduce some of the potential long-term risk for their children by actively reducing their children’s exposure to secondhand smoke,” said study lead author Costan Magnussen from Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania in Australia..
In the study, researchers followed participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study which included children exposed to parental smoking between 1980 and 1983. Scientists collected carotid ultrasound data in adulthood in 2001 and 2007.
By the end of 2014, researchers examined participant’s childhood blood cotinine levels from samples collected in 1980 and then frozen. Cotinine is a biomarker for passive smoke exposure.
Children raised in households where neither parent smoked had the highest level of non-detectable cotinine (84 percent), a lower level in households with only one parent smoked (62 percent) and lowest in households where both parents smoked (43 percent).
Compensating for other factors, the risk of developing carotid plague during adulthood was two times higher in children who lived in households where either one or two parents smoked compared to children whose parents did not smoke, the study found.
The results published in the journal Circulation.