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Smoking Quadruples Kids' Asthma Risk

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THURSDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents who smoke are about four times more likely to develop asthma during their teen years than those who don't smoke, researchers warn.

"The results of our study provide clear evidence that regular smoking increases the risk for asthma and that important chronic adverse consequences of smoking are not restricted to individuals who have smoked for many years," Dr. Frank D. Gilliland, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said in a prepared statement.

His team published the findings in the November issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Gilliland's group collected five to eight years of data on over 2,600 children with no prior history of wheezing or asthma. The children were recruited from the fourth and seventh grades in 12 California communities as part of the Children's Health Study, which tracked the respiratory health of school-aged children during the 1990s.

The team uncovered 255 cases of new-onset asthma. Children who smoked 300 or more cigarettes a year were nearly four times more likely to develop asthma than nonsmokers.

Surprisingly, the researchers found that this increased asthma risk in smokers was stronger in children with no history of allergies than in those who had allergies.

"The clinical and public health implications of our findings are far-reaching. Effective tobacco control efforts focusing on the prevention of smoking in children, adolescents and women of childbearing age are urgently needed to reduce the number of these preventable cases of asthma," Gilliland said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about smoking and asthma.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Nov. 15, 2006
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