Columbia University Medical Center

Lungs Suffer From Growing Up In A Household Of Smokers

NEW YORK, N.Y., April 28, 1998- More solid evidence shows that growing up in a home around smokers has an adverse impact on lung function. The strongest correlation, highlighted in a study presented by investigators from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center at the American Lung Association/American Thoracic Society’s International Conference in Chicago, was with mothers who smoked. Girls seem to suffer more than boys, probably because girls spend more time around their mothers, researchers say.
Extending earlier preliminary research and filling a gap on data on young adulthood, Patrick L. Kinney, Sc.D., associate professor at the Columbia University School of Public Health, and co-workers measured lung function in 1,496 students (745 male, 751 female), none of whom had ever smoked, from three successive classes of freshmen at Yale University. The tests were performed in the spring, after the students had been away from home (and at least that exposure source) for several months, suggesting that any effects on their lungs were permanent. Using questionnaires, the investigators asked the students about members of their household who smoked during various periods as they were growing up.

Data were obtained for Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), Forced Expiratory Volume per one second (FEV1), and Forced Expiratory Flow at both 75 percent and 25 percent to 75 percent of FVC (FEF25 and FEF2575), and adjusted for height, race, and sex. After controlling for socioeconomic status and exposure to air pollution, the researchers found that a mother’s smoking in the home was associated with diminished FEF75 and FEF2575, but not FVC.

“Exposure to household smoking during childhood and adolescence is associated with diminished lung function in young adulthood,” comments Dr. Kinney. “Our concern is that these differences may persist into later life, when reserve lung capacity naturally declines.” ###

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