Tags: Studies | Show | Smoking's | Toll | Children

Studies Show Smoking's Toll on Children

Monday, 21 May 2001 12:00 AM

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., studied 4,613 children between the ages of 1 and 5 during a 6-year period. They measured environmental tobacco smoke exposure and compared it to blood lead levels.

The researchers adjusted the data for known lead contributing factors such as ethnicity, age of housing and socioeconomic status. Their findings showed that children's blood level exposure to lead increased in direct proportion to tobacco smoke exposure.

Although the amount of lead exposure found in the children was below the CDC level of concern, the researchers say the lead exposure could have more subtle, long-term effects on development. Given the proven toxicity of lead and its particularly damaging impact on children's health, the researchers hope the findings will guide public policy.

Similar findings on the health impact of lead in paint and gasoline inspired initiatives to ban the heavy metal from those products, said Rachel Albalak, lead author of the study.

"We need to ask: Is this something we're overlooking in our lead policy?" said Dr. David Mannino, chief of CDC's Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch.

A second study by University of Arizona researchers found that male adolescent smokers have stunted lung development. Interestingly, female childhood smokers had normal lung growth and girls who smoked between the ages of 10 and 17 but who later quit had better lung development than those that never smoked at all.

The study asked 188 children between the ages of 10 and 17 and if they had ever smoked or if they currently smoked. Researchers measured their lung volume and their ability to exhale quickly. "If boys start smoking early, they already showed signs of air flow obstruction in their teens," said Catherine Holburg, lead author. "This could be because of a lag in the growth of airways relative to lung volume," she said.

The study builds on previous research that uncovered a gender difference in lung development and respiratory health. "Boys showed smaller airway size and a lot more susceptibility to respiratory infection than girls," said Holburg. The findings may be particularly useful for teenage smoking prevention programs. Holburg said the data should be posted in pediatrician's offices and distributed to health workers.

"Telling adolescents that they may get cancer at 60 (years of age) doesn't mean a lot to them, but perhaps this will," said Dr. Luke Clancy, clinical director of respiratory research at St. James Hospital in Ireland.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., studied 4,613 children between the ages of 1 and 5 during a 6-year period. They measured environmental tobacco smoke exposure and compared it to blood lead levels. The researchers adjusted the data for known...
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2001-00-21
Monday, 21 May 2001 12:00 AM
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