Passive cigarette smoking and reduced HDL cholesterol levels in children with high-risk lipid profiles

Circulation. 1997 Sep 2;96(5):1403-7. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.96.5.1403.


Background: HDL cholesterol levels are known to be lower in smokers than in nonsmokers. Previous studies have demonstrated an association of decreased HDL cholesterol with passive smoking in children but have not adjusted for potential confounding factors.

Methods and results: In a cross-sectional, pilot-scale study, we examined the relationship of HDL cholesterol levels to passive smoking in children and adolescents referred to a tertiary hyperlipidemia clinic. Eligibility criteria included (1) first visit to a lipid clinic, (2) LDL cholesterol >95th percentile for age or HDL cholesterol <5th percentile, (3) age between 2 and 18 years, and (4) absence of secondary causes of hyperlipidemia. Sociodemographic information, diet record, medical history, and fasting lipid profiles were obtained. Of 109 eligible patients, 103 (94%) were studied. Twenty-seven percent came from households with cigarette smokers. HDL cholesterol levels were 38.7+/-1.2 mg/dL (mean+/-SEM) in passive smokers versus 43.6+/-1.2 mg/dL in children without smoke exposure (P=.005). Smoking exposure was not significantly associated with other lipid values. The effect of smoking on HDL cholesterol was minimally affected by potential confounders. In multivariate regression adjusting for body mass index, age, sex, exercise, and dietary fat intake, passive smoking remained a significant risk factor for decreased HDL cholesterol (P=.012).

Conclusions: Mean HDL cholesterol levels are lower in dyslipidemic children from households with smokers than in those without household smoke exposure. Passive smoking may worsen the risk profile for later atherosclerosis among high-risk young persons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipids
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution