Black Children More Vulnerable to Passive Smoke's Effects

Less exposure, but higher levels of cotinine seen in black children with asthma than whites

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Black children with asthma may be more susceptible to the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke than their white counterparts, according to a study in the March issue of Chest.

Stephen E. Wilson, M.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio, and colleagues analyzed levels of cotinine in blood and hair samples from 220 children with asthma at baseline, six months and one year. Children were aged 5 to 12 years and 55 percent of the participants were black. Air nicotine dosimeters were placed in participants' homes to objectively measure environmental tobacco smoke.

Black children tended to spend less time exposed to secondhand smoke, but yet they had higher levels of cotinine in their blood and hair than did their white peers. To that end, serum cotinine levels were on average 32 percent higher in black children than white children.

Exactly why these differences occur is not known. "Understanding racial differences in the response to environmental tobacco smoke could provide momentum to implement policies that protect highly susceptible populations from environmental tobacco smoke exposure," the researchers conclude.

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