Tags: cough | reflex | smoke | kids

Smoke Impairs Kids’ Cough Reflex

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:43 AM

Exposure to secondhand smoke seriously impairs the vital cough reflex in children and adolescents, which may explain why smokers’ kids are more likely to develop pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases.
That’s the chief finding of Monell Chemical Senses Center researchers who found smoke decreases children’s sensitivity to cough-inducing respiratory irritants – which may, in turn, hinder their lungs’ natural ability to keep their airways clear and healthy.
"Cough protects our lungs from potentially damaging environmental threats, such as chemicals and dust,” noted Julie Mennella, a Monell biologist who co-directed the study with scientist Paul Wise. “Living with a parent who smokes weakens this reflex, one of the most vital of the human body."
Mennella noted studies have shown children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than nonsmoking adults. About 60 percent of U.S. children aged 3-11 years and 18 million youth aged 12-19 years are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke.
For the new study, published in the journal Tobacco and Nicotine Research, the Monell researchers tracked 38 healthy children – aged 10-17 years – as they inhaled increasing concentrations of capsaicin from a nebulizer. Capsaicin is the ingredient that gives chili peppers their kick and is a potent chemical stimulus for cough. Seventeen of the children in the study were regularly exposed to smoke at home; 21 were not.
The results showed the children exposed to secondhand smoke required twice as much capsaicin to trigger cough as children living in non-smoking homes – making them less able to clear respiratory irritants that may increase their odds of developing lung-related illnesses.
"This study suggests that even if an exposed child is not coughing, his or her respiratory health may still be affected by secondhand smoke," said Wise.
The Monell Center is an independent nonprofit research institute in Philadelphia.

© HealthDay

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Secondhand smoke stifles the vital cough reflex in children, putting them at greater risk for lung diseases.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:43 AM
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