Parents' Smoking Can Increase Children's Blood Pressure
Forget about lung cancer causing harm in the distant future. Your smoking may hurt your child before he hits grade school.
A new study shows breathing tobacco smoke can increase blood pressure in children as young as 4.
Researchers in Germany looked at the blood pressure of more than 4,000 kindergarten students who were, on average, 5.7 years old, according to an article published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
They found that children who had a parent who smoked were 21 percent more likely to have a systolic blood pressure -- the top number, which measures the maximum pressure in the arteries -- in the highest 15 percent, the report says.
That held true even after they adjusted for other risk factors, such as birth weight, body mass index and hypertension in the parents, according to the study.
The correlation between parental smoking and high blood pressure was less evident in the diastolic pressure -- the bottom number of a reading, which measures the lowest amount of pressure that occurs in the arteries -- the report says.
More fathers smoked than mothers, but a mother's smoking habit had a larger impact than a father's, probably because more of their smoking was done at home, the authors postulate.
The study's results suggest that promoting smoke-free homes may protect cardiovascular health in children as well as adults, the report notes.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.