What Secondhand Smoke Does to A Child
Smoking around children is dangerous for their health. Not only can a smoking parent or caregiver harm a child, but secondhand smoke can cause health problems for unborn babies, too. Secondhand smoke refers to both the smoke exhaled by someone who is smoking and the smoke coming off the cigarette. Thirdhand smoke is the residue left behind when someone smokes a cigarette – the chemicals linger in furniture, paint, and carpet for many days after. Both secondhand and thirdhand smoke are dangerous to nonsmokers, and especially to children.
Tobacco during pregnancy
If a woman smokes during pregnancy, she’s risking her baby’s health even before he is born. When she lights up, the chemicals breathed in are absorbed into her blood stream and shared with the growing baby. This can cause complications during pregnancy such as premature birth, miscarriage, low birth-weight, poor lung development, a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and learning problems as the baby grows. More than 1,000 babies die each year because his/her mother smoked during pregnancy. To protect your growing baby, quit smoking. Don’t allow others to smoke around you and avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
Children exposed to smoke
Secondhand smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and/or cancerous. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure for children. When children breathe in secondhand smoke, it has the potential to create an array of health problems such as:
- A higher number of ear infections
- Respiratory problems (bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma)
- Tooth decay
- Hoarse, sore throat
- Eye irritation
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
- Poor lung development – the lungs never function to their full ability
With many of these illnesses and diseases, secondhand smoke can increase the severity and really take a toll on young bodies.
Creating healthy environments for your children
If you smoke, you may be thinking it can’t harm your child all that much if you smoke in another room or only when driving in the car. But the truth is, parents have a responsibility to ensure their children live and grow in clean, tobacco-free environments. The single most helpful thing you can do for your child (and yourself!) is to quit smoking. Not only will it improve your health, you will be showing your child that abstaining from tobacco is important and worthwhile. Don’t smoke in the car, even with the window down. Don’t smoke in the house, even if you stay in one room with the door closed. The smoke clings to your clothing and everything it contacts. Be aware of the childcare situations your child spends time in. To take it one step further, you can promote tobacco-free schools and public areas in your city.
Smoking while raising a child is not a good idea. Secondhand smoke harms kids. Their bodies are still growing and developing, and once the toxins from secondhand smoke enter children’s bodies, they can cause irreparable damage. Talk to a doctor or join a support group for help to quit smoking. Your children will thank you, and you’ll likely feel better and be around longer to help them navigate their own lives down the road.
Do you have a success story to share? Comment below!