Secondhand smoke may impair children's cough reflex

August 20, 2012 2:02:39 PM PDT
A new study finds that 60 percent of U.S. children aged 3 to 11 are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke, and there is more evidence of the harm it can do.

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke impairs their cough reflex. Specifically, it lowers their sensitivity to irritants that would normally make them cough.

Because children's lungs aren't fully developed to be protected through coughing, they are at greater risk for pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.

The study by researchers in Philadelphia also showed that children exposed to secondhand smoke may be more likely to become smokers later in life because cigarettes may seem less unpleasant to them.

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