Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Secondhand smoke impairs vital cough reflex in kids

20.08.2012
Exposed children less able to keep airways clear and protect lungs

New research from the Monell Center reveals that exposure to secondhand smoke decreases sensitivity to cough-eliciting respiratory irritants in otherwise healthy children and adolescents. The findings may help to explain why children of smokers are more likely to develop pneumonia, bronchitis and other diseases and also are more likely to experiment with smoking during adolescence.

"Cough protects our lungs from potentially damaging environmental threats, such as chemicals and dust. Living with a parent who smokes weakens this reflex, one of the most vital of the human body," said Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at Monell who co-directed the study with Monell sensory scientist Paul Wise, Ph.D.

Children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than nonsmoking adults, with 60 percent of U.S. children aged 3-11 years and 18 million youth aged 12-19 years exposed to tobacco smoke on a regular basis.

Adult smokers are known to have a less sensitive cough reflex relative to non-smokers, meaning that it takes more irritation to elicit a cough in the smokers. The Monell research team conducted the current study to ask if the cough reflex of children and adolescents who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke is affected in a similar fashion.

In the study, which appears in Tobacco and Nicotine Research, 38 healthy children aged 10-17 years old inhaled increasing concentrations of capsaicin from a nebulizer. Capsaicin is the burning ingredient in chili peppers and a potent chemical stimulus for cough. Seventeen of the youth were regularly exposed to smoke in the home, while 21 were never exposed to smoke at home. Parents also were tested.

The amount of capsaicin in the nebulizer was increased after each inhalation until the subject coughed twice. The capsaicin concentration that induced the two coughs was labeled as the individual's cough threshold.

Youth regularly exposed to secondhand smoke required twice as much capsaicin to trigger cough as did non-exposed children, meaning that the exposed children were less sensitive to the irritating environmental stimulus. A similar finding was true for the parents, confirming earlier findings.

The findings highlight a previously unrecognized public health risk from exposure to secondhand smoke. An insensitive cough reflex could make exposed children less able to cope with environmental threats, which could in turn play a role in their increased risk for developing respiratory illness.

"This study suggests that even if an exposed child is not coughing, his or her respiratory health may still be affected by secondhand smoke," said Wise.

It is also possible that an insensitive cough reflex could increase the risk of adolescents acquiring a smoking habit by making experimentation with smoking less unpleasant.

Future research will explore the relationships among secondhand smoke exposure, cough reflex and the sensory response to cigarettes to ask if exposure-related decreased sensitivity to irritants makes smoking more pleasurable to teens. The researchers will also seek funding to determine whether impairment of the cough reflex is reversible and how this may relate to the age when secondhand smoke exposure ceases.

Also contributing to the study was Susana Finkbeiner of Monell. This project was funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in program areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit www.monell.org.

Leslie Stein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.monell.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>