Children And Secondhand Smoke- What Smoke Does To Their Lungs

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?Do as I say, don?t do as I do.? This statement should make every parent wince and stop in their tracks, and rightfully so. Not only does it smack of hypocrisy, but it also negates any sense of responsibility on a parent?s part, and you know that children learn by your example and not your words. Many a smoker will confide that he or she does not what their children to take up smoking, and wish they had never started themselves. Of course, wishing does little to change the situation, and any parent who understands the risks and dangers associated with smoking will do well to do everything possible to stop this filthy habit before it also claims the life, health and pocket books of their children. Yet, as a smoking parent, do you really understand what secondhand smoke does to your children?s lungs? You probably have heard that it is bad for them, but do you know why?

Secondhand smoke is the name of the smoke that is emitted by a lit cigarette mixed with the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker engaged in the process of smoking. This kind of smoke affects all those who are in close proximity to a smoker, and thus of course children. The effect can be seen even before a child is born. Research has proven that a prenatal exposure to nicotine, as it is contained in cigarette smoke, will lead to a low birth weight in a baby. Additionally, it may contribute to prenatal death and resulting miscarriage. Of course, once the infant is born, secondhand smoke has been linked to the much feared sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which causes healthy infants less than one year of age to die without recognizable causation. Children who survive their infancy and later on suffer from asthmas will find their asthma attacks to be more severe than those of their counterparts who live in smoke free environments. Because of the toxins that are exhaled as well as emitted from a lit cigarette, children who are exposed to secondhand smoke quite often suffer from aggravated conditions of the respiratory system, such as chronic bronchitis, postnasal drip, and frequent colds. Of course, there are also other health risks, such as an increased risk of ear infections and sore throats.

Nonetheless, the most severe damage done by secondhand smoke to children is the damage inflicted on their lungs. Infants who were exposed to nicotine before birth, quite often have reduced lung functions, which is the reason there are more susceptible to succumbing to SIDS after birth. One of the reasons why children are so adversely affected by secondhand smoke is the fact that their breathing rate is more rapid than an adult?s breathing rate, and thus, by weight, they are receiving a larger dose of secondhand smoke and all its toxins than an adult would. Add to this factor the developmental immaturity of a child?s lungs and it is no surprise that so many hospitalizations are directly traced to a parent?s smoking around the children.

Another factor to consider is the quantitative exposure of children to cigarette smoke; usually smokers have other smokers in their direct circle of friends and acquaintances and are less likely to ban smoking to the outdoors or any other location away from the children. Thus, a child is usually not only exposed to a parent?s or caregiver?s secondhand smoke, but also to that of their friends, family, and acquaintances. Sadly, children who are exposed consistently to secondhand smoke will be at a high risk of developing lung cancer, just like their smoking parents and caregivers are. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a hospitalized child whose fear of the unknown is clearly visible in their eyes and mannerisms. Similarly, if parents for some reason are unable to remain by the child?s side at all times, this fear is compounded drastically. Quite possible the worst part of smoking related hospitalizations in children who were exposed to secondhand smoke is the fact that they could have been summarily avoided. Do not wait until it is too late and your little one needs to make an unscheduled trip to the hospital; quit now for the sake of your kids!