Smoke Gets in Young Lungs
CHILDREN WHOSE MOTHERS smoked during pregnancy show signs of impaired lung function even years after their birth, a study by researchers from the Keck School of Medicine reveals. Scientists examined 3,357 schoolchildren in 12 Southern California communities, both urban and rural. Through questionnaires given to parents, researcher Frank Gilliland and his colleagues in preventive medicine studied fourth, seventh and 10th graders’ current and past exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and in utero exposure to maternal smoking. They also took several measurements of the kids’ lung function.
Those whose mothers smoked while pregnant were found to have reduced lung function in most of the tests. The effect was not attributable to later exposure to environmental smoke, Gilliland says.
Current exposure may produce an additional reduction in lung function, the authors note. In the United States, about 15 million children are exposed to household environmental tobacco smoke. Deficits in lung function that persist through adulthood may indicate increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, Gilliland believes. The study was published in a recent issue of Thorax, the journal of the British Thoracic Society.

– Alicia Di Rado



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Gililand Photo by Carl Studna

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