Secondhand smoke can increase a child's likelihood of developing health problems

by Alice Stanton

Secondhand smoke can increase a child's likelihood of developing health problems

It's widely known that smoking is advised against during pregnancy, but it's just as important to avoid lighting up around children during their baby development period. A new article published in the journal Tobacco Control suggests that smoking in cars, in particular, can pose a threat to an infant's health.

British researchers used aerosol monitors to look into the amount of harmful pollutants in a car for every minute that a smoker drove. They found that, on average, there were approximately 85 micrograms per cubic meter of harmful particulate matter in the car that was driven by a smoker, as compared to only 7 micrograms per cubic meter in automobiles that were smoke free. Even if the car window was open for ventilation, there was more contamination than what the World Health Organization recommends as the safe limit.

"Children are likely to be at greater risk from [secondhand smoke] exposure due to their faster breathing rates, less developed immune system and their inability to move away from the source in many home and car settings," wrote researcher Sean Semple, M.D.

Smoke exposure could increase a child's risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), middle ear disease and asthma.

With October being National SIDS Awareness Month, health officials emphasize that new moms should not smoke in order to decrease their baby's risk for the health complication, in which a baby dies because of no immediately obvious cause, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, quitting can ultimately create a healthier environment for both you and your child. 

Have you heard of any children being affected by secondhand smoke? Did your healthcare provider warn you about the effects of smoking around an infant? Leave your answers in the comments section!