We all know of the health horrors smoking can inflict on our bodies, leading to a vast range of complications. Some of us may also be aware of the dangers of smoking around others — also known as “second-hand smoking”. But did you know the extent of the harm second hand smoking can cause? Did you know that smoking around newborns, toddlers and even older kids can result in their death?
In an absolute tragedy, a one-month-old infant boy in Indonesia recently died due to cigarette smoke inhalation during an Aqiqah ritual.
Here’s what led to little Hafizh’s sad and completely preventable death, as recounted by his devastated mother, Ms Indah, in a Facebook post.
The danger of smoking around newborns: Hafizh’s story
Ms Indah recounts the chronological order of events that befell her only son in a Facebook post on 9 August 2017 (translated from Bahasa):
In the morning of 17 July 2017, our family was going to hold a party to cut Hafizh’s hair and an Aqiqah for him. We stayed in my mother-in-law’s house for a week. The event was held at my mother-in-law’s house as my house didn’t have enough space.
Towards the end of the festivities I brought my son to the visitors’ lounge. Since I was busy entertaining the many guests who wanted to see Hafizh then, I was unaware that anyone was smoking at all.
At first, Hafizh appeared fine. However, two days later, he started coughing and had shortness of breath. When I told my husband of Hafizh’s condition, I was the one given cough medication since he was too young and I was breastfeeding him.
Since Hafizh failed to get better, the new parents brought him to their midwife. However, their midwife refused to provide medication since Hafizh was too young.
In the end, Hafizh was brought to the hospital and administered a battery of tests. The results showed that he was suffering from pneumonia.
The sight of little Hafizh struggling to breathe in hospital is just devastating and serves as a grim reminder of the danger of smoking around newborns. Image: Facebook
In her post, Ms Indah continues:
Oh Lord, I feel so heavy seeing my so very young son enter the Emergency Room and be diagnosed with severe pneumonia. If I had a choice, I would gladly take his place rather than see Hafizh lying weakly with an IV drip, oxygen and mask and other equipment attached to his tiny body.
With every passing second I only wished for the doctor to deliver good news. Yet, even in the end my son had to undergo an X-Ray to better investigate his disease.
The x-ray results
Both of Hafizh’s parents prayed continuously for their tiny newborn’s condition to improve. However, reality was harsh: his condition deteriorated even further. He was just four weeks old and his immune system was still so weak.
Eventually, Hazifh had to be transferred to the ICU due to his worsening condition. Ms. Indah and her husband were then called upon by the doctor to reveal the x-ray results.
“So, this is our result, Mom and Dad…Baby Hafizh is suffering from severe pneumonia. Here are the X-Ray results: Normally, healthy lungs are colored black. However baby Hafizh’s lungs are nearly completely white – only a small portion remains black. I ask that you provide me consent to operate on him should something unanticipated occur,” recalls the heartbroken mom, quoting the doctor.
With a heavy heart, Indah and her husband signed the consent form, while still holding on to hope that a magical miracle will save their little boy.
The tiny baby still managed to give mummy a smile before breathing his last breath.
But on Sunday, 30 July 2017, their hopes were dashed when they were called to the ICU. Hafizh’s pulse rate was falling. At this point, Ms. Indah and her husband lost all hope.
One Final Look
Indah remembered the last time she saw Hafizh. Even though he was suffering from shortness of breath, he still gave his mommy a smile:
I saw Hafizh looking at me deeply, as if it were a sign that he was going to leave me forever. In response, I smiled back and told him, “Mom really really loves you, Baby Hafizh.”
Not long after I kissed his forehead, Hafizh was no more. Everything suddenly became dark, and my world disappeared forever. Only the loud sobs that erupted from both my husband and me filled the void.
Baby Hafizh, who passed away due to cigarette smoke inhalation, had one last kiss on his forehead from his mom before breathing his last. Remember: smoking around newborns can be fatal to them.
Ms Indah’s prayer for her lost angel was:
“Oh Lord, if this for the best, please protect Hafizh. Provide him a beautiful place in Your Eden. Give us, who have been left behind, fortitude and strength to move forward. Amen.”
Our hearts are breaking for the parents’ loss and we are just devastated that this tiny baby’s life was snatched away from him by something totally preventable.
Please take this sad story as a grim warning if you or your partner smoke, of if your family and friends smoke around your newborn or other kids. All we have to say is, it’s not worth it.
Smoking around newborns: Precautions you can take
This little baby’s death could have been prevented if he had not been exposed to cigarette smoke. Remember that a baby’s immune system is still very weak. It is not developed enough to protect him for a range of infections and conditions, including the toxic effects of cigarette smoke.
If you have friends or relatives who smoke, and you have a newborn or older kids, please caution them not to smoke ANYWHERE near your children, including in the house or in your car.
Do NOT take your little to places with designated smoking areas, such as restaurants.
If someone near your baby smokes and you are unable to move from there:
- Politely ask them not to smoke because it can make your little one sick.
- In case they refuse to stop, move to a different place or open the windows as wide as possible.
If your partner is a smoker, do share this article with him so that he can understand the full dangers of smoking near children. If he has difficulties controlling his addiction, advise him to seek appropriate help.
Smoking around newborns: The tomb of baby Hafizh, who passed away due to cigarette smoke inhalation.
This tragic case of a little baby passing away from cigarette smoke inhalation should serve as a stern reminder as to how dangerous cigarette exposure can be to children.
We should not let our children fall victim to cigarette smoke just because we cannot control our addiction.
Share this story as much as possible so that other parents and smokers are aware that they should not smoke around children.
Also read: Symptoms and Management tips for managing childhood pneumonia
References: Okezone, Tribunnews, Medicinenet
Translated from Indonesian by Kevin Wijaya Oey
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Indonesia