Secondhand Smoke May Slow Healing In Kids
April 7, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A child's ability to heal from cuts, burns or infections could be slowed by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, a new study shows.

The study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside suggests that parents who smoke around their children could cause a range of health-related issues for youngsters.

"The idea is to make people aware of the fact that secondhand smoke is just as bad, or maybe I could say worse, than firsthand smoke for certain kinds of problems," said Manuela Martins-Green, an associate professor of cell biology who led the research team.

The study was published Monday in the online journal BMC Cell Biology.

Cells typically rush to all areas of a wound. But when exposed to smoke, the cells cluster in one area on the edge of the wound, limiting healing and causing scars, Martins-Green said.

The research could have implications for larger problems, including the effect of secondhand smoke on the liver, kidney, heart and arteries, the professor said.

The research team focused on cells that were extracted from animals and humans, and studied how smoke affected healing cells called fibroblasts in culture dishes.

Public health officials have warned against the perils of secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association identifies it as a cause of lung cancer.

A representative of Philip Morris USA said the cigarette producer has not researched the impact of secondhand smoke on wounds.

"The people should be guided by the findings or conclusions of public health officials," said Jamie Drogin, spokeswoman for Philip Morris in Richmond, Va.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.