Researchers from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) had found that second-hand exposure to smoke during childhood increases the risk of respiratory problems that may last a lifetime.
The study of 35,000 adult non-smokers in Singapore found that those who lived with a smoker during childhood had more respiratory problems, including chronic cough. Study participants who reported eating more fruit and soy fiber as adults seemed to be protected against some of the negative health effects often associated with early tobacco exposure.
Individuals 18 or younger, living with one or more smokers, were more than twice as likely to suffer from chronic dry cough as adults.
This paper, which appears online in Thorax, is the largest study to date on the effects of childhood exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) on later respiratory disease, and the first to include data on dietary intake.
The data for this study were collected from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, a population of men and women of Chinese ethnicity ranging in ages from 45 to 74 at enrollment, who live in Singapore. The 35,000 non-smokers provided information regarding ETS before and after age 18, a medical history including information on respiratory symptoms of chronic cough, phlegm production and asthma diagnosis, as well as information on dietary intake.