Researchers from Australia’s University of Tasmania have found that children exposed to the secondhand smoke of their parents will likely face abnormally thickened carotid arteries later in life. The finding, published in the European Heart Journal, followed 3,776 children that participated in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study and the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study.
The children were divided into groups according to whether neither parent smoked, one parent smoked or both parents smoked. Questionnaire results were combined with ultrasound testing to correlate exposure during childhood with the health of carotid arteries, and researchers concluded that the effects are pervasive even 25 years later.
Those exposed to two parental smokers as children had significantly greater thickness of inner carotid artery walls than did children with non-smoking parents. Their arteries also showed signs of premature aging by more than three years compared to children of nonsmokers. The researchers write, “There must be continued efforts to reduce smoking among adults to protect young people and to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease across the population.”