Secondhand smoke lands babies in the hospital longer

After your baby is born, you can't just go back to all your old bad habits that you gave up while pregnant. For example, you obviously shouldn't drink regularly around a baby - especially if you're breastfeeding - and you also shouldn't smoke cigarettes. While you most likely know that smoking while pregnant may cause a number of health problems in your baby, you may not understand just how dangerous secondhand smoke can be. 

For example, researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recently found that babies who have a family history of allergic diseases with lower respiratory tract infections are at risk of experiencing longer hospital stays if they are exposed to secondhand smoke, compared to those who are not around this dangerous substance. 

Secondhand smoke poses a serious threat
The scientists examined more than 450 mothers and infants who participated in a study regarding childhood asthma and atopic disease outcomes that are connected to viral respiratory infections. They discovered that 68 percent of these babies had an immediate relative with an allergy, and 36 percent were born to mothers with atopic disease and an allergy. Furthermore, 57 percent of the infants had been exposed to secondhand smoke. 

"Respiratory infections in infants are common, but if the infant has a family history of respiratory issues such as asthma, they are at higher risk for infection and hospitalization," said researcher Meghan Lemke, M.D., an ACAAI member. "Our research found that infants with a family history of allergic disease who are also exposed to secondhand smoke had a 23 percent longer hospital stay than those without secondhand smoke exposure."

Allergist James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee, added that secondhand smoke may cause asthma attacks in children that are life-threatening. She said that it is necessary for adults to never smoke around children of any ages - particularly babies. People need to be especially sure to avoid smoking in a house or car where children are present, since they may be exposing them to both secondhand and thirdhand smoke. 

What is thirdhand smoke?
While you've probably heard of secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke is something that is not talked about as often. The Mayo Clinic explains that this type of smoke occurs when smoke residue lingers on surfaces. Studies have shown that this type of smoke can cling to clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, hair, skin, carpets, bedding and other surfaces - and it can potentially pose a threat to children and nonsmokers. 

This is why if parents must smoke, they should do so outdoors when children are not present and never allow others to smoke inside their homes - even if it's grandma and grandpa, they'll understand. 

Are you a smoker? What precautions do you take to make sure that your child is not exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke? Do you have any tips for other parents? Leave your comments here!