As a smoker, you’ve probably been reminded many times that smoking is bad for you. However, the conversation has since moved away from just your own health, and how second hand smoke affects others—namely children.
A child’s lungs are still in development and don’t have the same capacity to handle impurities in the air like an adult’s do, so it’s especially important to avoid smoking around them. Even if you have committed to only smoking outside, there’s still a risk to your children from third-hand smoke (the leftover toxins), according to HealthyChildren.org. Here are five reasons second hand smoke is no joke…
1. Stunted Lung Growth
Cigarette and pipe tobacco smoke can not only affect your child’s underdeveloped lungs, it may end up causing their lungs to never develop to their full potential, according to HealthyChildren.org. That means less lung capacity later in life, and lung capacity is important to feed proper amounts of oxygen to the heart and brain.
It’s not surprising then that the same source says second-hand smoke can greatly increase the risk of children developing chronic coughs, or more serious conditions such as pneumonia. This is especially impact to children who already have asthma.
2. Tooth Decay
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), you don’t need to be the primary smoker for the damaging effects on teeth. Second-hand smoke is also linked to tooth decay in kids, according to the agency.
The culprit is called cotinine, a nicotine by-product present in children who have prolonged second-hand smoke exposure, according to the article. The article noted that a study determined about 32-percent of children with higher cotinine levels had decaying baby teeth, while only 18-percent of children without raised levels had tooth decay.
3. Ear Infections
Younger children may already be at higher risk for ear infections, however the American Academy of Otolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery) says environmental tobacco smoke (a fancier name for second-hand smoke) can raise both the frequency and duration of these unpleasant illnesses.
The academy noted that tobacco smoke could irritate the eustachian tubes that are the internal gateway between the ears and the nose. Extended exposure to secondhand smoke can block the tubes and cause pressure to build up, which can lead to pain and even hearing loss without treatment.
4. Increased Risk of SIDS
This is every parent’s nightmare, but HealthLinkBC said that babies that are exposed to ambient smoke from cigarettes are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), less formally known as crib death.
SIDS is when an infant suddenly passes away while sleeping, and the risk of is greatly heightened by a smoky environment or from taking in toxins from cigarettes while still in the womb. KidsHealth said SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants aged 1-month to 1-year.
5. Mental Health Conditions
PsychCentral explained in an article that a study linked ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and learning disabilities to prevalence of secondhand smoke in a child’s home environment. The study found that children that lived in a home with smokers showed learning disabilities 8.2-percent of the time, and ADHD almost 6-percent of the time.
While researchers had no solid proof of a causal relationship (cause and effect), it stated up to 274,100 excess cases of the aforementioned disorders could have been avoided based on statistics.