PAS: Secondhand Smoke May Raise Boys' Blood Pressure

Boys who live with smokers have higher systolic blood pressure; opposite effect seen in girls

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Secondhand smoke exposure among boys, but not girls, appears to be associated with elevated systolic blood pressure, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.

Jill Baumgartner, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in Minneapolis, and colleagues evaluated data from four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted from 1999 to 2006. The investigators assessed 6,421 youths' (8 to 17 years old) exposure to secondhand smoke from their own reports of whether they lived with a smoker and through their cotinine levels.

Compared to boys not exposed to tobacco smoke, the investigators found that boys who were exposed to secondhand smoke had significantly higher systolic blood pressure. The investigators also found that girls who were exposed to secondhand smoke had lower systolic blood pressure than girls who were not exposed to tobacco smoke.

"These findings support several previous studies suggesting that something about female gender may provide protection from harmful vascular changes due to secondhand smoke exposure. An important next step is to understand why," Baumgartner said in a statement.

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