A new study led by the University of Melbourne suggests that children growing up surrounded by parents who are heavy smokers can increase the risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in later years.
The findings published in the journal Respirology on Sunday suggest that early life exposure to maternal smoking may increase the risk of developing COPD in adulthood, said researchers at the University of Melbourne.
The pulmonary disease consists of a group of lung disorders including chronic bronchitis and emphysema that harmfully affects airflow and breathing, to the point where the patient needs artificial oxygen supplement in order to breathe normally. COPD affects 11 million people currently and over 24 million people may suffer from it and be completely unaware as of now.
Even though this lung disease is known as COPD often occurs after years of smoking cigarettes, the Australian study proposes the idea that passive smoking as a child can impact the risk of suffering COPD later in life.
Just about 40 percent of children across the globe have at least one parent who smokes according to on of the researchers from the University of Melbourne, Dr. Jennifer Perret. The studying of long-term consequences of early exposure to second-hand smoking is crucial, added Dr. Perret.
The Australian research not only linked parents who frequently smoke putting their children at risk of developing COPD in adulthood but also found the danger is higher if those children become frequent smokers themselves. The study was set to analyze samples collected trough the years of almost 1,400 subjects from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study.
A lifetime study
The participants underwent pertinent tests at age 7, followed by a survey during their middle age, and then continued further testing in adulthood including lung volume tests and gas transfer factor measurements. Thanks to an extended database over years following the participants’ health status and development, researchers could determine which ones were more probable to suffering from COPD.
Children who pick up smoking in adulthood after growing up with a mother or father who heavily smoked around them are more likely to suffering health issues regarding pulmonary diseases, researchers at University of Melbourne claim.
Second-hand smoking poses a significant threat for children, and considering that many will grow up to become regular smokers, it increases the chances of lung damage up to three times higher than non-smokers. According to the team of researchers responsible for the study, the findings should encourage current references for pregnant women and young mothers to keep away from smoking.
Source: Wiley Online Library