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Title: Secondhand smoke: Risks to children

What is secondhand smoke? — Secondhand smoke is the term doctors use for the smoke that people (who do not smoke) breathe in from other people’s smoking. Another term for secondhand smoke is “environmental tobacco smoke.”

Does secondhand smoke cause health problems in children? — Yes. Studies have shown that secondhand smoke from people smoking in the home can cause health problems in children. These problems are worse if both parents smoke.

What health problems can secondhand smoke cause in children? — Secondhand smoke increases the chance of children having the following health problems:

●Breathing symptoms, such as coughing, coughing up mucus, or wheezing (noisy breathing)
●Lung infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia – These infections can be especially serious in babies and young children.
●Asthma – Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. It doesn’t cause symptoms all the time. But when symptoms flare up, children wheeze, cough, or get a tight feeling in their chest.
●The lungs not growing normally during childhood
●Ear infections
●Hearing loss (later in childhood)
Later on as adults, children who grew up with secondhand smoke are more likely to get:

●Asthma
●Lung cancer
●Other types of cancers
●Heart disease
Also, children who grow up with parents who smoke are more likely to take up smoking themselves.

What if my child already has asthma? — If your child already has asthma, secondhand smoke can make his or her symptoms worse or severe. Also, secondhand smoke causes children with asthma to need their asthma medicines or go to the hospital more often.

Can secondhand smoke affect an unborn baby? — Yes. If a woman (who doesn’t smoke) lives in a home with secondhand smoke, her baby has a higher chance of weighing less than normal at birth.

What problems can happen if a woman smokes during pregnancy? — Women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher chance of having a miscarriage, which is when a pregnancy ends on its own.

When a woman smokes during pregnancy, her baby has a higher chance of:

●Being born too early
●Not growing as much as normal in the uterus (womb)
●Being born with a birth defect
●Dying from sudden infant death syndrome (called “SIDS”) later on – SIDS is when a baby dies suddenly during sleep for no known reason.
Is it enough to just make a smoke-free room in my home? — No. If you want to help your child’s health, you need to make your whole home smoke-free. You also need to make your car smoke-free. It will not help enough to make a smoke-free room or to smoke at home only when your child is not there. Also, using an air cleaner will not help.

What should I do if I want to quit smoking? — If you want to quit smoking, think of the letters in the word “START.” They can help you remember the steps to take:

S = Set a quit date.

T = Tell family, friends, and the people around you that you plan to quit.

A = Anticipate or plan ahead for the tough times you’ll face while quitting.

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.

T = Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting help to quit.

Your doctor or nurse can help you in different ways. He or she can:

●Put you in touch with a counselor – A counselor can help you figure out what triggers your smoking and what you can do instead.
●Prescribe medicines to help you quit smoking – Some medicines reduce your craving for cigarettes. Others reduce unpleasant symptoms (called “withdrawal symptoms”) that happen when you stop smoking.

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