Children chronically exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to develop a serious chronic lung condition later in life as those who don’t spend much time smokers, according to new research.
The Norwegian study, published in the journal Respirology, linked secondhand smoke to the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of death in the United States.
For the study, researchers at Haukeland University Hospital in Norway examined the health and childhood experiences of more than 400 COPD patients, and compared them to 325 people with similar backgrounds.
They found women being exposed to secondhand smoke during childhood had a 1.9-fold greater risk of COPD than those who had not. Men who had been exposed to smoke during childhood had a 1.5- to 1.7-fold greater risk of COPD-related symptoms than men who had not.
"Our results suggest that the long-term burden of COPD could be reduced if children were not exposed to cigarette smoke," researchers wrote. "Further, they indicate that factors affecting early-life development of lung function has important long-term consequences for adult life."