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Parents' Smoking Is a Risk Factor for Children's High BP

Smoke-free settings at home and in public may give long-term CV benefit to young children

TUESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to other familial and environmental risk factors, parental smoking is an independent risk factor for higher blood pressure in healthy preschool children, according to research published online Jan. 10 in Circulation.

Giacomo D. Simonetti, M.D., of the Bern University Hospital in Switzerland, and colleagues performed a population-based study between February 2007 and October 2008 of 4,236 preschool children aged 4 to 7.5 years in the Heidelberg Kindergarten Blood Pressure Project. The researchers assessed blood pressure and other anthropometric, prenatal, environmental, and familial risk factors for high blood pressure, including parents' smoking habits.

The researchers found that 28.5 percent of fathers, 20.7 percent of mothers, and 11.9 percent of both parents reported smoking. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (by 1.0 and 0.5 mm Hg, respectively) were higher in children of smoking parents, as were the classic risk factors for developing hypertension: body mass index, prematurity, low birth weight, and parental hypertension. Even after correcting for body mass index, parental hypertension, birth weight, and other risk factors, children of parents who smoke were 21 percent more likely to have a systolic blood pressure in the top 15 percent of the population.

"Comprehensive interventions that seek to reduce the cardiovascular risk burden early in life by promoting lifestyle changes in all family members may prove essential for lowering the cardiovascular disease risk of future generations," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial support from an AstraZeneca-funded scholarship.

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