Study Shows Parental Smoking Leads to Carotid Plaque in Offspring

Children may have a higher risk of developing carotid atherosclerotic plaque later in life if one or both of their parents smoke, compared to those with parents who do not smoke at all, according to a study published March 23 in Circulation.

Using data from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, researchers evaluated childhood exposure to parental smoking in 1980 and 1983 in 2,448 children, aged 3 – 18 at baseline, also including carotid ultrasound data from 2001 and 2007 in the analysis. Childhood serum cotinine samples from the participants were frozen in 1980 and then measured in 2014 to assess the effect of the parents' smoking hygiene. Hygienic parental smoking was defined as children with non-detectable cotinine levels but whose parents smoked, whereas non-hygienic were those with detectable serum cotinine levels >0 ng/ml and <3 ng/ml and whose parents smoked.

The results of the study showed that children exposed to parental smoking were approximately twice as likely to develop carotid atherosclerotic plaque later in life as those with non-smoking parents. Further, children whose parents used poor "smoking hygiene" had a significantly higher risk of plaque as adults than those whose parents exercised good hygiene.

The authors of the study conclude that "our data suggest that to provide the best long-term cardiovascular health for their offspring, parents should not smoke. However, parents who are unable to quit smoking may be able to reduce potential long-term risk for their children by smoking in a hygienic manner (i.e. away from their children)."

Clinical Topics: Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology, Prevention, CHD and Pediatrics and Prevention, CHD and Pediatrics and Quality Improvement, Smoking

Keywords: Adult, Cardiovascular Diseases, Child, Cotinine, Hygiene, Parents, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, Risk, Risk Factors, Smoke, Tobacco, Tobacco Smoke Pollution

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