Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secondhand smoke impairs vital cough reflex in kids

Date:
August 20, 2012
Source:
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Summary:
New research reveals that exposure to secondhand smoke decreases sensitivity to cough-eliciting respiratory irritants in healthy children and adolescents. The findings may help to explain why children of smokers are more likely to develop respiratory diseases and also are more likely to experiment with smoking during adolescence.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monell Chemical Senses Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. M. Wise, J. A. Mennella, S. Finkbeiner. Impaired Cough Sensitivity in Children of Smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2012; DOI: 10.1093/ntr/nts198

Cite This Page:

Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Secondhand smoke impairs vital cough reflex in kids." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820090846.htm>.
Monell Chemical Senses Center. (2012, August 20). Secondhand smoke impairs vital cough reflex in kids. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820090846.htm
Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Secondhand smoke impairs vital cough reflex in kids." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820090846.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins