Secondhand smoke impacts girls more negatively than boys early in childhood —particularly those with allergic conditions, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
The UC scientists found that children with allergies under 2 years of age who are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke are at greater risk for decreased lung function at age 7 than other children.
Additionally, lung function among girls was six times worse than in boys who were exposed to similar levels of secondhand smoke.
“Our study shows that the timing of allergic sensitization is crucial because children who are sensitized by age 2 are more likely to suffer the greatest lung deficits during childhood as a result of secondhand smoke exposure,” said lead researcher Kelly Brunst.
The UC team's findings, published online in the scientific journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, are based on an assessment of 476 children in Greater Cincinnati.
Previous studies have also linked secondhand smoke exposure during childhood to respiratory illness, decreased lung function and asthma.