The research from the Epidemiologists with UC’s Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study has found that children exposed to high levels of second-hand smoke are at a much greater risk of decreased lung function by the age of 7 (compared to children who had not developed any sensitivity by this age.)The numbers were shocking, in fact, with the research showing that lung function among girls was six times worse than in boys who were exposed to similar levels of secondhand smoke.
This is the first study of its kind to explore the specific effects of secondhand smoke exposure on genders, especially those of young people (and using an internal biomarker for secondhand smoke).
The studies prior, estimated that secondhand smoke exposure during younger years has also been associated with respiratory illness, decreased lung function and asthma development/exacerbation.
One of the authors of the study, Kelly Brunst, commented on the findings, saying, “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.”
The research is quick to point out, that these conclusions were not reached until the child has reached approximately age 4, which really brings to light how important the lung development of young people is.
The Effects of Second Hand Smoke on Kids
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. In fact, the EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers.
There are Serious Health Risks to Children from Second Hand Smoke
Children are particularly sensitive to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults. Children exposed to high doses of secondhand smoke run a much higher risk of experiencing damaging health effects. Here is a list of some of the dangerous effects of second hand smoke:
1) It can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited symptoms of asthma
2) Infants and children under 6 who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
3) Middle ear infections are more common in kids who breathe second hand smoke
The study in question followed infants who all had parents that were known to have allergies. They were studied up until about age 7.