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NEW YORK — Children who breathed in the ash and fumes saturating the air of Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack on 9/11  show early signs of heart disease risk, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed 123 children who came in direct contact with the “cloud” of toxic debris 16 years ago and found that they had elevated levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood compared to other children, according to the NYU Langone Health study. The children were enrollees in the World Trade Center Health Registry and have received annual check-ups.

“Since 9/11, we have focused a lot of attention on the psychological and mental fallout from witnessing the tragedy, but only now are the potential physical consequences of being within the disaster zone itself becoming clear,” said study lead investigator and health epidemiologist Leonardo Trasande.

There could be long-term danger for these now young adults, Trasande said. The raised levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood are known risk factors for heart disease and can if left unchecked lead to blood vessel blockages and heart attack.

With the knowledge in hand, those affected can stay healthy by taking care to watch their diets and exercise.

“Our study emphasizes the importance of monitoring the health consequences from 9/11 in children exposed to the dust, and offers hope that early intervention can alleviate some of the dangers to health posed by the disaster,” Trasande said.