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Smoking Lowers Your Kids' IQ

You may recall a blog I posted last month about research that linked smoking over a long period of time to a negative effect on one's cognitive abilities. Even if you don't care about your own mental faculties, you may want to stop anyway for the sake of your kids, according to a new study.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with decreases in certain cognitive skills, including reading, math, and logic and reasoning, in children and adolescents.

To measure exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, researchers measured levels of cotinine, a substance produced when nicotine is broken down by the body. Considered the best marker of environmental tobacco smoke exposure, cotinine can be measured in blood, urine, saliva and hair.

Reading, math and reasoning scores were highly related to environmental tobacco smoke exposure: The greater the levels of exposure as measured by cotinine levels, the greater the decline in reading and reasoning ability, even at extremely low levels of exposure, according researchers.

Three frightening sets of numbers for you to think about, or better yet, share with a loved one by e-mailing them this blog by using the e-mail to a friend feature on the top right-hand corner of this page:

  • More than 33 million children in the United States are exposed to levels consistent with the adverse effects seen in this study.
  • Forty-three percent of American children are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in their own homes.
  • Eighty-five percent of children have detectable levels of cotinine in their blood.

EurekAlert January 4, 2005

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