The dangers of 3rd hand smoke to your fetus

We are all too aware that second and third hand smoke can be detrimental to your fetus and children. But do you know to what extent? If you love your children then you owe it to yourself to read up on the dangers of exposure. Dr K Vijaya, the Director of the Youth Health, Health Promotion Board tells us more…

What are the five dangers of exposing a kid to second and third-hand smoke?

Scientific evidence has shown that exposure to both second- and third-hand smoke can cause disease, disability or even death. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand 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 second-hand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and make asthma symptoms more severe

  • Infants and children younger than six years old who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome among infants

How does second and third-hand smoke affect a pregnant woman and the child she is bearing?

When a pregnant woman is exposed to second-hand 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
  • have an increased risk of low birth-weight infants
  • have children born with decreased lung function
  • have children with greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
 

Tell us what are the differences between second- and third-hand smoke and do they differ in terms of negative effects?

Second-hand smoke refers to smoke from the burning tip of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by smokers.

Third-hand 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.

 

Next week, Dr K Vijaya, the Director of the Youth Health, Health Promotion Board, will give you tips on how to quit smoking. Watch out for it.