Add another danger that e-cigarettes pose to teenagers: A new study finds secondhand exposure to vaping may raise the chances of asthma attacks in adolescents with the respiratory condition.
Middle school and high school students with asthma were 27 percent more likely to have suffered an asthma attack if they'd been exposed to vapor from someone else's e-cigarette use, the researchers found.
"While we cannot definitively say these products worsen asthma, I think if I was a parent, I wouldn't want to risk my kids being around people using these products," said lead researcher Jennifer Bayly. She is a student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.
These findings and others belie the general perception that e-cigarette emissions carry no risk, said Dr. Karen Wilson, chief of general pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
"Contrary to the idea that it's a harmless water vapor, it actually contains some of the same chemicals that we find in tobacco smoke, along with particulate matter that can be very irritating to people with asthma," Wilson said.
There is moderate scientific evidence that e-cigarette use causes increased cough and wheeze in teenagers, and an increase in asthma symptoms, according to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report cited by the study authors.
For their research, Bayly and her colleagues gathered data from the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. It included about 33,500 high school students and just over 36,000 middle school students, aged 11 to 17. The study focused on 11,830 students who reported having asthma.
Overall, 21 percent of kids with asthma said they'd had an asthma attack during the previous year, and 33 percent said they'd been exposed to secondhand vapor from an e-cigarette.
This exposure to secondhand vapor was tied to a significantly increased risk of an asthma attack, even after researchers accounted for other factors, such as whether the teens used an e-cigarette themselves or had been exposed to tobacco smoke.
The report was published Jan. 4 in the journal Chest.