Blood pressure is higher in young children who are exposed to parents' secondhand smoke, according to a new study published online this week.
Researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the University of Bern in Switzerland found a greater risk of developing high blood pressure in children whose parents smoke. The findings were published in the journal Circulation.
Researchers evaluated 4,236 preschool children between the ages of 4 and 7 from February 2007 to October 2008. Of the students evaluated, 28.5 percent of their fathers smoked and 20.7 percent of their mothers smoked. In about 11 percent of the children, both parents smoked.
The study found that parental smoking habits affected the children’s blood pressure independently of factors such as body mass index, prematurity, low birth weight, and parental hypertension, which were previously known to affect children’s blood pressure.
"The prevention of adult diseases like stroke or heart attack begins during childhood," the study's lead author, Dr. Giacomo D. Simonetti of the University of Bern, told HealthDay.
"Removing any avoidable risk factors as soon as possible will help reduce the risk for heart disease later on and improve the long-term health of children."
High blood pressure has been frequently linked to an increase in heart disease.