Health Risks of Children’s Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke

It is already well understood that adults and young cigarette smokers are exposed to very negative health consequences caused by inhaled cigarette smoke. But it is very important to know that our children are also being exposed to those fumes which people around them make. The medical term used to refer to the smoke inhaled by our children is “second-hand smoke” or “environmental tobacco smoke”.

The risks associated with the exposure of our children to secondhand smoke are the following:

Health risks

  • It produces diseases of the respiratory system such as:
    1. Asthma
    2. Pneumonia
    3. Laryngitis
    4. Bronchiolitis

    If your child already has asthma, secondhand smoke can make his symptoms worse, making them need asthma medication or going to the hospital more often.

  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Problems of fetal development
  • Sudden infant death syndrome: where the baby dies during sleep without any reason
  • There are studies that are linking second-hand exposure to kidney problems
  • Cancers for children: Pulmonary
  • Heart problems
  • When pregnant mothers are exposed to this secondhand smoke they are more susceptible to:
    1. Your baby is born premature or too early
    2. Not growing normal in the womb
    3. Being born with a defect

Social risks

  • By increasing the chances of children having the above-mentioned health problems, there would be an increase in the lack of school participation
  • We have found a relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and low school performance of the child
  • Children’s with low performance were more exposed to smoking in childhood

What we can do to help our children

The main thing is to try to stop smoking once and for all by asking your doctor for help. There are a lot of rehabs to help adults and youth to quit smoking. Beside those, we can reduce exposure to smoke by trying to follow the following steps:

  • No smoking near your child
  • No smoking inside the house
  • If you go outside of the house to smoke, change your clothes before exposing to your child and wash your hands before picking them up

-Dr. Denise Núñez is a pediatrician and founder of the Niño de la Caridad Foundation in the Bronx