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How Dangerous Is Passive Smoking For Your Baby?

4 min read

We all know that smoking is injurious to health. We have all heard of harmful effects of smoking on the pregnant woman and her unborn baby. However, do we realize how dangerous smoking is to baby once he is born? That is right, even if small babies do not smoke, they are hugely impacted if people around them (especially family and friends who stay or visit their homes often) smoke. Let us understand why and what we can do to protect our little ones.
baby passive smoking

What Is Passive Smoking?

Passive smoking refers to someone breathing in the smoke from another person’s cigarettes. Such smoke, coming from someone else, is also called second-hand smoke. It consists of two types of smoke:

  • Mainstream smoke, that the smoker is breathing out after every puff
  • Side stream smoke, the smoke that comes from the cigarette tips as they burn

So even if you do not smoke, when you are in the vicinity of someone who smokes, you are breathing in the second-hand smoke which can be very dangerous, and for no fault of yours. Thousands are known to be impacted by lungs and cardio problems as a result of passive smoking.
There is also another dimension to this called third-hand smoke. When someone smokes, the toxins from it settles in things all around him. These things include the smoker’s clothes, clothes of people nearby, furniture, floor and hair. Anybody coming in contact with any of these items will be exposed to the toxins from third-hand smoke.

Why Are Babies Most Affected By Passive Smoking?

All of us are affected by passive smoking. But babies are more impacted because:

  • They have small and under-developed airways. So they breathe much faster. This means that they take in more of the smoke than the adults
  • Their immunity is still a work in progress. Their body is not equipped to fight the harmful chemicals in the smoke they inhale
  • They also move closer to the floor, often crawling on the floor. This means that they come in touch with third-hand smoke much frequently than the adults around them. They might also take it in their mouth if they put their hands in their mouth
What Are The Consequences Of Passive Smoking In Babies?

So clearly, the babies are more exposed to second-hand smoke than we would like. Here are few ways how it impacts them and you should be aware of it:

  • Higher risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (What is SIDS?). Babies exposed to passive smoking have a higher risk of premature death
  • Increased risk of vascular problems: Exposure to second-hand smoke can result in thickening and inflammation of babies airways, causing a number of breathing-related problems, such as:
    • Asthma
    • Wheezing
    • Croup
    • Bronchiolitis
    • Bronchitis
    • Increased risk of ear infections and problems related smelling
    • Higher chances of meningitis
    • Risk of catching pneumonia or tonsillitis
    • Risk of early tooth decay in your baby due to exposure to smoke
    • Higher risk of threatening diseases like leukemia and cancer as the baby’s immune system tends to be negatively impacted by passive smoke
  • The problems are not limited to physical body alone. Babies exposed to secondary smoke are also known to have behavioral problems, lower IQ and learning disabilities

baby no smoking sign

How Can You Protect Your Baby From Passive Smoking?

The harmful effects of passive smoking on babies do sound scary. So how do you protect your baby?

  • The most important step is for you to quit smoking if you are a smoker. This will not only reduce your baby’s exposure to smoking but also provide him with a good role model to look up to
  • Understand that turning your face and blowing the smoke in a different direction when smoking does not protect your baby from inhaling the harmful toxins. Explain this to the smokers among your family or friends
  • Ensure that if someone in your family needs to smoke, they need to do it outside the house, as far away from the baby as possible
  • Never smoke (or let anyone smoke) in a car when your baby is traveling with you
  • If you and your baby are in an enclosed area, and there are people smoking, move away from there
  • If your family has smokers, keep the floor and surfaces clean so that the danger from third-hand smoke reduces
  • Whenever a person smokes, the harmful toxins released can get into their hair and clothes and remain there for few hours. A person continues to exhale the harmful toxins released from a cigarette several minutes after extinguishing it. So if a person has smoked a cigarette and immediately after that wants to hold your baby, it can lead to your baby inhaling these toxins. Remember if your friends or family members who smoke, wants to hold your baby, ask them to first wash their hands and change their clothes. This will decrease your baby’s exposure to the dangerous poisons

Want to more about how smoking can impact your health, your fertility and your baby’s health? Please read:

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