Children and the harmful effects of second hand smoking

Some would say that exposing children to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is one form of child abuse.

Children’s second hand smoking starts as early as in the uterus with the smoking of expectant mothers. It has been proven that exposure to second hand smoking in the uterus can cause lower birth weight and cot deaths. After birth exposure to second hand smoking has been linked to the build up of fluid in the middle ear, ear infections, respiratory infections especially during the first year, asthma, less ability to learn and mature, meningitis, cancer, leukemia, worsening of cystic fibrosis and decreased lung function. Exposure to second hand smoking also causes symptoms from the respiratory organs such as caughing and increased mucous and even food intolerance and excema. Such exposure has also been shown to cause blood clots later in life.

Even though the effects of the expectant mother being exposed to second hand smoking is less on the fetus than if the
mother herself smoked there are still provable effects such as miscarriage and lower birth weight. After birth the babies
of mothers that are exposed to secondary smoking produce breakdown components of nicotine that goes to show that they are exposed in uterus.

A lot has been said and written about how important it is for parents to be good role models for their children. Therefore it does not come as a surprise that children who are exposed to second hand smoking growing up are up to three times as likely to smoke later in life than those who are not exposed. Research has also shown that children are less likely to start smoking if they live in surroundings where there is a smoking ban in effect since they are more likely to regard smoking of adults as socially unacceptable.

In 2007-2008 an estimated 88 million nonsmokers in the United States were exposed to secondhand smoke and 53.6% of young children (aged 3–11 years). What is even worse is the fact that 18.2% of children (aged 3–11 years) lived with someone who smoked inside their home. Keep in mind that research has shown that up to 85% of children that were exposed to second hand smoking in their home measured with nicotine in their blood.




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