Ohio State UniversityIn a shocking revelation by scientists from the Ohio State University, it has come to be known that toddlers and obese children may suffer more from secondhand smoke as compared to other youth.

For the purpose of the study, Bauer along with his colleagues were believed to have recruited American boys and girls. These American boys and girls appear to have included 52 toddlers i.e. between ages 2 to 5 years and 107 adolescents i.e. in ages 9 to 18 years. Moreover, the study was noted to have comprised black, white and Hispanic children as well as obese toddlers and adolescents.

Bauer and colleagues were observed to have determined the degree of secondhand smoke exposures via blood samples. Further they seem to have examined vascular injury markers and inflammation for every child. They also measured the numbers of circulating vascular endothelial progenitor cells. More so, they obtained height, weight, blood pressure and socioeconomic data for each child examined.

Chief author of the study, John Anthony Bauer, Ph.D., at Nationwide Children’s Hospital & Research Institute at Ohio State University in Columbus said that, “Secondhand smoke in children is not just bad for respiratory issues, as has been previously described by other researchers. Our data support the view that cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke in children are important, particularly for the very young and those who are obese. We had not investigated the impact of obesity in previous studies.”

Various forms of heart disease are known to begin in childhood, and at least a quarter of children in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke. Study authors were believed to have tried to find out if children exposed to secondhand smoke had measurable changes in markers of heart disease. Additionally, they tried to discover if some children, particularly obese children, were at greater risk of these problems.

The study authors found that there seems to be a link between the amount of secondhand smoke exposure and an indicator of vascular injury in toddlers. Supposedly, this link was two times higher in toddlers who were obese. Moreover, obese adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke appear to have been at twice the risk of vascular injury than normal-weight adolescents.

Bauer further said that, “The changes we detected in these groups of children are similar to changes that are well recognized risks for heart disease in adults. This suggests that some aspects of adult heart disease may be initiated in early childhood, where prevention strategies may have great long-term impact.”

“We do know that secondhand smoke as well as smoking causes increased oxidation and inflammation. Separately, other studies within the past few years have shown that obesity is a physiological condition of chronic low-grade inflammation, and that this can lead to vascular damage. We think that the two factors together (eg. smoke exposures plus obesity) may interact to amplify the degree of inflammation or vascular cell damage that occurs,” he explains.

In addition, toddlers may perhaps be at a four times greater threat of secondhand smoke exposure when compared to adolescents, in spite of having similar reported home exposures. Besides, toddlers exposed to secondhand smoke seem to have a 30 percent decrease in circulating vascular endothelial progenitor cells. This vascular endothelial progenitor cells refer to a cell type involved in repair and maintaining a healthy blood vessel network.

The study authors further seem to have examined at a cross-section of children to identify whether these differences progress or change over time as the children grow. The findings apparently increase the significance of eliminating smoking and related exposures especially for kids, and obese children may require to be even more protected from these exposures.

The findings of the study have been presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2009.