A new study suggests that girls are more likely than boys to be affected by exposure to secondhand smoke.
The study of 476 children found that those who were exposed to high secondhand smoke levels and also showed signs of allergy at age 2, were at higher risk for decreased lung function by the time they were 7, according to HealthDay. The researchers found lung function in girls was six times worse than in boys who were exposed to similar levels of secondhand smoke, and had the same degree of immune system response to allergens, or allergic sensitization.
The study appears in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
A recent study found exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of wheezing and asthma in children and teens by at least 20 percent. The researchers found the biggest effect of secondhand smoke exposure on asthma risk was in babies and toddlers whose mothers smoked during pregnancy or soon after the children were born.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children’s developing bodies make them more susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke. Due to their small size, children breathe more rapidly than adults, and breathe in more secondhand smoke. Children who breathe in high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those with parents who smoke, run the greatest risk of experiencing harmful health effects.