Exposing Children to Cigarettes – Despite the Risks, it Still Happens… Alot

By Emily Murray

Gone are the days that we can claim ignorance when it comes to the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes.  While we once saw ads like this one which claims that more doctors smoke Camels than any others, it is now a matter of common knowledge that smoking isn’t just bad for us…it can kill us and when we expose small developing lungs to our addictions, we are increasing many childhood and life long diseases.

Two stories in the news this week highlighted the fact that many parents are still exposing their children to second-hand smoke, not only prenatally, but also well after the children are born.

The first article pointed out something that may seem common sense to many – smoking when pregnant really does cause harm to the baby. A study involving roughly 2,500 children from the U.S. found that more severe cases of children’s asthma can be linked to prenatal smoking.

Aside from this new finding, there is also an increased risk for a variety of complications including low birth weight, birth defects and a higher risk for miscarriage. Previous studies did show that when a mother smoked near a child with asthma continually that the asthma was harder to treat but this is the first study to show that these complications begin while the baby is still in the womb.

The second article to drive home the dangers of cigarette smoke and children highlighted that while many parents claim to not smoke around their kids, more than half who were tested for secondhand exposure tested positive.

This isn’t to say that the majority of the parents were smoking and lying about it, it simply proves that children are exposed to levels that parents are not even aware of most of the time, yet it is enough to show up in a blood test. This is a great tool now that parents may be able to utilize in order to recognize exposure is happening and then they will be able to do a bit of research to go directly to the source to stop it.

In addition to causing respiratory complications in children, secondhand smoke has also been associated with ear infections and also SIDS (or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Both articles shed light on an area of childhood health that perhaps needs some added exposure. Whether in the womb or already born, children and cigarette smoke are a deadly complication.