Secondhand smoke: How it can affect children
Health Promotion Board's (HPB) Director of the Youth Health Division, Dr. K Vijaya sheds light on how smoking negatively affects children. Read more on how harmful secondhand smoke can be for your kids!
theAsianparent joined the global effort to spread the awareness of asthma in children and adults—striving to create a better living environment for families living with this condition. Singapore’s Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) Director of the Youth Health Division, Dr. K Vijaya gave some expert advice on how harmful secondhand smoke really can be for children.
Scientific evidence has shown that exposure to both secondhand and thirdhand smoke can cause diseases, disability or even death. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments. Children exposed to high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those whose parents smoke, run the greatest risk of experiencing damaging health effects such as:
- Increased frequency of coughs, colds, wheezing and middle ear infections.
- Asthma in children who have not previously exhibited symptoms. Among those who are diagnosed with asthma, exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms more severe.
- Infants and children younger than six years old who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, are at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) among infants.
When a pregnant woman is exposed to secondhand smoke, the nicotine she ingests is passed on to her unborn baby. Women who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy have:
- a higher rate of miscarriages and stillbirths
- an increased risk of low birth-weight infants
- children born with decreased lung function
- children with greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Secondhand smoke refers to smoke from the burning tip of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Thirdhand smoke is actually the residual tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette is extinguished.
Cigarette smoke contains gases and small particles that are deposited on every surface that it comes in contact with, be it a person’s hair, clothing or even nearby furniture. In addition, when smokers finish a cigarette and enter an enclosed area such as one’s home, they are often still exhaling smoke which contaminates the air and these smoke particles may get onto young children’s hands and subsequently into their bodies, through contact while they play or crawl on the floor.
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Singapore