Smoking and Your Child

Parents should be aware of all the new information available about the effects of the secondhand and sidestream smoke on your child’s health. Secondhand smoke is all the smoke from the parent when they exhale and sidestream smoke is the smoke rising from the end of the cigarette while it is burning.

It is said that a child who spends one hour a day in a very smoky room with multiple smokers, inhales as much harmful chemicals as if he or she smoked 10 or more cigarettes. Some of these same harmful chemicals are present in the breast milk of a smoking mother. Smoking parents and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome appear to be linked. There is an increased rate of SIDS in homes where there is secondhand smoke.

I always caution parents who smoke who have asthmatic children. Their frequency of complications, the frequency of doctor visits, and number of hospitalizations are all increased when an asthmatic child lives with one or two smoking parents.

There is a long list of conditions that are worsened when your child is exposed to secondhand smoke:

  • pneumonia
  • coughs or bronchitis
  • croup or laryngitis
  • wheezing or bronchiolitis
  • influenza (respiratory flu)
  • ear infections
  • middle ear fluid
  • colds and other upper respiratory infections
  • sinus infections
  • sore throats eye irritation
  • school absenteeism

Secondhand smoke?

The most important thing is to give up smoking. An especially critical time is during pregnancy. Children’s growth is known to be effected by cigarette smoke.

Smaller babies are often the result of a smoking mother. Children who grow up in home where one or both parents smoke are 2 to 3 times as likely to be smokers when they make a choice to smoke themselves.

It is easy for me to say stop smoking but it is very difficult to do. At least try to change your smoking habits. Either smoke only when your away from the home. If you must smoke at home please smoke on the patio or garage. When you must smoke in doors use only one room. Try to keep the room well ventilated to the outdoors by opening a window. Even with these measures smoke often permeates through the rest of the house. This should also apply to visitors.

Avoid smoking when you hold your child. Do not smoke in their room. Never smoke in the car when your child is a passenger.

It is also important to check out the care giver for your child. They should not be smokers.

Although we might try to prevent our children from cigarette smoke it is not realistic to expect that they will never be in contact with other smokers. If we do our best to decrease the amount of time they are around secondhand smoke you can expect minimal effects from smoke and decrease the chances for illnesses and disease.