A new study reported that children exposed to their parents’ smoking may have a higher risk of developing heart disease in adulthood than those whose parents didn’t smoke. Findings from the study are published in Circulation.

Researchers followed study participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, which included childhood exposure to parental smoking in 1980 and 1983; carotid ultrasound data in adulthood was collected in 2001 and 2007. Then in 2014, the team measured childhood blood cotinine levels from samples that were collected and frozen in 1980.

Results showed that the percent of children with non-detectable cotinine levels were greatest among households where neither parent smoked, less in households where one parent smoked, and the lowest among households where both parents smoked (84% vs. 62% vs. 43%, respectively).

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The risk of developing carotid plaque in adulthood was nearly double in children exposed to one or two parents who smoked vs. children of parents who did not smoke. Even with parents who limited their children’s exposure, the risk was still almost two times higher; the risk was four times higher in children whose parents smoked and did not limit their children’s exposure.

The study data support the recommendation that parents should not smoke in order to provide the best long-term cardiovascular health for their children, researchers concluded.

For more information visit Heart.org.