How does secondhand smoke affect me and my baby?

Deborah Mulligan
Deborah Mulligan on behalf of MDLIVE
The scientific evidence on the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is clear, convincing, and overwhelming. Secondhand smoke (also referred to as involuntary smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, and passive smoking) is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, low birth-weight births, and chronic lung ailments such as bronchitis (particularly in children), as well as other health problems. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease attributable to secondhand smoke exposure.

When considering which babies could be most at risk, no single risk factor is likely to be sufficient to cause a SIDS death. Rather, several risk factors combined may contribute to cause an at-risk infant to die of SIDS.  Make no mistake: Research clearly shows that children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, slow lung growth, and more severe asthma.

Institute of Medicine (2009) – In a landmark report, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concludes smoke-free laws reduce the number of heart attacks and save lives. The report also confirms that there is conclusive scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes heart disease, including heart attacks.

Babies whose parents smoke have a higher risk of SIDS.  So take care of yourself and your baby - stop smoking for the most precious thing in your world.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.