Asthma Linked to Early Smoke Exposure

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ashtrayYoung people who light up may find themselves sidelined with asthma. Early exposure to cigarette smoke is linked to the development of asthma in adolescents and teenagers.

Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles tracked the smoking habits of 2,609 children and teens with no prior history of asthma. The study was held over the course of five to eight years, depending on the student's age at the beginning of the study. Participants who became regular smokers were more likely to develop asthma compared to non-smokers. Children who smoked 300 or more cigarettes per year were four times more likely to develop asthma than those who did not smoke.

"A year after they start smoking regularly, the risk triples for the development of asthma," study author Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D, of the Keck School of Medicine and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles told Ivanhoe. "During adolescence, you're at risk for asthma, so it's not something you can start and stop and think you can reduce your risk for asthma later on."

This provides yet another reason for parents to discourage their children from smoking. Dr. Gilliland says parents should lead by example. Exposing young children to cigarette smoke can be harmful for their lungs. Young smokers who were also exposed to cigarette smoke in utero had nine-times the risk of developing asthma.

"Maternal smoking during pregnancy has effects on all organs," Dr. Gilliland said. "Those kids don't have normal lungs to start with, and they are at particular risk if they smoke. If they were exposed to maternal smoking, they have even more reason not to smoke."

Dr. Gilliland said the incidence of asthma has been increasing at epidemic proportions.

"It went from being a fairly uncommon condition, and now between 10 and 20 percent of children develop asthma during childhood," Dr. Gilliland said. "There are adverse effects of smoking for adolescents, and they have potential to substantially affect the quality of life for those children. That message needs to get to the kids."

source - Ivanhoe