24/03/2015 3:01 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Smoking Parents Put Kids At High Heart Attack Risk

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1950s retro family share the joy of smoking with their daughter

Smoking in front of your kids puts them at higher risk of developing heart disease in adulthood, says a new study.

The results published in the journal Circulation add to the growing evidence that exposure to smoking from parents has a lasting effect on children's cardiovascular health in adulthood.

"For parents who are trying to quit smoking, they may be able to reduce some of the potential long-term risk for their children by actively reducing their children's exposure to secondhand smoke," said study lead author Costan Magnussen from Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania in Australia.

"Not smoking at all is by far the safest option," Magnussen added.

For the study, the researchers tracked participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, which included childhood exposure to parental smoking in 1980 and 1983.

They collected carotid ultrasound data in adulthood in 2001 and 2007.

In 2014, they measured participant's childhood blood cotinine levels from samples collected and frozen in 1980. Cotinine is a biomarker of passive smoke exposure.

The percent of children with non-detectable cotinine levels were highest among households where neither parent smoked (84 percent), decreased in households where one parent smoked (62 percent) and were lowest among households where both parents smoked (43 percent).

Regardless of other factors, the risk of developing carotid plaque in adulthood was almost two times higher in children exposed to one or two parental smokers compared to children of parents who did not smoke, the findings showed.