Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Preclinical Markers of Cardiovascular Risk in Toddlers

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To investigate relationships between secondhand smoke exposure in young children and several preclinical markers of cardiovascular risk that have been established as relevant to adult populations.

Study design

There were 139 children, 2–5 years of age, enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Secondhand smoke exposure was objectively determined by hair nicotine level; a comprehensive panel of clinical markers (morning blood pressure, fasting glucose and insulin, lipid profiles, inflammation) and research markers (markers of oxidation, endothelial stress, and endothelial repair) of cardiovascular risk status were assessed. Univariate and multivariate linear regression were used to evaluate relationships between secondhand smoke exposure and cardiovascular risk markers.


Hair nicotine levels were correlated directly with blood pressure and serum C-reactive protein, and inversely correlated with serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and endothelial cell progenitor cell prevalence. In multivariate analyses, these relationships remained when controlled for age, sex, body mass index z-score, maternal education, and method of payment. Additionally, in multivariate analyses, hair nicotine level was significantly negatively correlated with total antioxidant capacity.


These results support the view that secondhand smoke exposure in the very young has a detectable relationship with several markers of cardiovascular risk, long before the emergence of clinical disease. Further studies to define mechanisms and strategies to prevent and mitigate these risks early in life are warranted.

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