Non-smokers are becoming less tolerant of smoke-filled environments smokers. Second hand smoke has negative effects on everyone, but theses effects are more severe for youngsters. Children–particularly infants– suffer definite and measurable effects when one or both parents smoke cigarettes ( the effect is dose-related with alterations in normal physiology being more prevalent and more severe when both parents smoke).
Briefly, those effects are:
Bronchitis & Pneumonia
During the first year of life, there is a two-fold increase in the incidence of acute bronchitis and pneumonia in children of smoking mothers. The incidence is higher if the father also smokes. Reasons for this are not clear but probably involve at least three factors:
- Cigarette smoke is an irritant to the delicate respiratory epithelium of young children, which causes bronchitis and may contribute to pneumonia.
- Of all the persons exposed to cigarette smoke, the infant is unique in that he cannot complain or leave the room. He is often totally dependent upon the source of his discomfort– his smoking parent. Such a child may therefore be exposed to much higher concentrations of smoke than older children or adult who can evade or escape the cigarette smoker.
- The intricate self-cleaning system in the lungs is paralyzed by nicotine in cigarette smoke. This renders the smoking parent’s bronchi and lungs a virtual “cesspool” of bacteria. Pathogens among these bacteria can be easily transmitted to the young child.
Mothers who smoke during pregnancy have smaller babies, with significantly reduced neonatal survival.
Increased Heart Rate
Children exposed to cigarette smoke in crowded areas experience increases in their heart rate and blood pressure.
Try to avoid exposing your child to second-hand smoke.
If you or other family members smoke, make sure not to smoke in the car that your child rides in. Do not smoke around your child – please step outside, and wear a smoking jacket if you need to smoke. There are now effective tools to help people to stop smoking. It is worth it both for your better health and that of your child.