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The Invisible Poison That May Be Making Your Children Sick

Aug. 22, 2016 at midnight

Secondhand smoke, which is tobacco smoke inhaled by individuals other than the active smoker, contains 7,000 chemicals with at least 69 of these known to be dangerous to your health. In particular, children are more negatively affected by secondhand smoke compared to adults. This is because they breathe more air relative to the size of their small bodies and they breathe more frequently.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infants exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of SIDS. The chemicals in tobacco smoke have been found to interfere with an infant's regular breathing causing them to suffocate. Analyzing the lungs of infants that died from SIDS have shown great concentrations of cotinine, a biological marker of passive smoking. So, you should never bring a newborn baby into a household of smokers. Family members and housemates who are unable to quit should instead be asked live elsewhere especially when your baby is still under a year old.


Common food allergies of children, like dairy milk, wheat, egg and peanut allergies, can also be traced back to secondhand smoke exposure. Sensitization to food allergens can begin from the age of four and continue into adolescence. If you notice that your child cannot tolerate certain types of food, then you should look into passive smoking as a culprit. There might be people who smoke around your child at home, in school or even in public places such as teachers or babysitters.

Neurobehavioral Problems

Researchers found out that among children under 12 who have lived with a smoker, about 20% have been diagnosed with a neurobehavioral condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. Although, studies have not yet determined how exactly secondhand smoke affects a child's brain function. Nonetheless, it has been estimated that more than 274,100 cases of these neurobehavioral disorders could have been prevented in the U.S. alone if children were not exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

Lung Disease

Secondhand smoke affects the development of a child's lungs resulting in coughing, wheezing, and other lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If your child already suffers from at least one of these conditions, then passive smoking will make it even worse. Children can also develop lung cancer later in life, which could explain cases of non-smokers who suffer from this type of cancer.

Impact on Adult Health

Aside from cancer, secondhand smoke exposure in childhood is associated with heart disease, diabetes, impotence and infertility, and nicotine dependence in adulthood. Children who grew up around smokers are also more likely to become smokers when they get older. Thus, if you are a tobacco smoker, you are putting your child in danger for the rest of his or her life.

It is also important to understand that smoking outside the house does not decrease the risk of passive smoking for your child. Smoke can still enter through windows or doors and smoke particles can transfer from a smoker's clothes. It is best to simply stop smoking tobacco products altogether and find ways to replace it with a better, healthier habit.



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