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Chemist Direct reviews the risk to children exposed to second-hand or passive smoking and investigates the increases of disease.

A study by The Children's Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney, Australia shows that second hand smoke and foetal exposure due to maternal smoking while pregnant significantly increase the risk of invasive meningococcal disease. Mothers who are exposed to tobacco smoke may have their babies too soon. Babies born too soon don't weigh enough to thrive and may not be able to breathe on their own. Research has shown that smoking during pregnancy causes health problems for both mothers and babies and in a study published online in the European Heart Journal, evidence showed that by the age of eight years, children born to mothers who smoked while they were pregnant had HDL cholesterol levels of about 1.3 millimoles per litre (mmol/L), compared to the more normal level of 1.5 mmol/L in children born to mothers who had not smoked. The researchers found that this effect was independent of whether the children had been exposed to other people's smoke after birth, suggesting that prenatal exposure had the most impact on the children's subsequent development.

Children are affected by not only second-hand smoke, but in households with one or more smokers, the residue of smoke remains in any fabrics, furniture and even the walls and floors, causing third-hand smoke risks that is harmful for health and development. Exposure to second or third-hand smoke can cause low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infection, and other diseases in both infants and older children.

Smoking is one of the leading global causes of preventable deaths, triggering the development of numerous types of cancer, particularly in the throat, lungs and mouth, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. Initially, smokers or those living with smokers, may only develop mild, short-term health issues such as persistent coughing, throat irritation, heartburn or signs of asthma or allergy. But over time these conditions can easily develop into more serious health problems both in the lungs such as bronchitis and emphysema, and in the heart such as high blood pressure, narrowing or thickening of the blood vessels and clots which lead to stroke.

These health problems are not just affecting the adults who smoke, but are also causing similar developments in many of the children who are exposed to smoke in the air or even in the walls or from clothing of smokers around them or living in the same household. Second-hand smoke is what the smoke exhaled by a smoker is called along with the smoke that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. This smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals out of which at least 50 of them are known to cause cancer, and most of the rest are known to be highly dangerous. Anyone exposed to second-hand smoke are also exposed to these chemicals and will suffer the same health risks as the smoker.

nt of whether the children had been exposed to other people's smoke after birth, suggesting that prenatal exposure had the most impact on the children's subsequent development.

Children are affected by not only second-hand smoke, but in households with one or more smokers, the residue of smoke remains in any fabrics, furniture and even the walls and floors, causing third-hand smoke risks that is harmful for health and development. Exposure to second or third-hand smoke can cause low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infection, and other diseases in both infants and older children.

Hearing loss linked to passive smoking

By Michelle RobertsHealth reporter, BBC News

People who are exposed to the second-hand smoke from others' cigarettes are at increased risk of hearing loss, experts believe.

Doctors already know that people who smoke can damage their hearing.

The latest study in the journal Tobacco Control, involving more than 3,000 US adults, suggests the same is true of passive smoking.

Experts believe tobacco smoke may disrupt blood flow in the small vessels of the ear.

This could starve the organ of oxygen and lead to a build up of toxic waste, causing damage.

The harm is different to that caused by noise exposure or simple ageing.

In the study, the researchers from the University of Miami and Florida International University looked at the hearing test results of 3,307 non-smoking volunteers - some who were ex-smokers and some who had never smoked in their lifetime.

Listening problems

The tests measured range of hearing over low, mid and high noise frequencies.

To assess passive smoke exposure, the volunteers had their blood checked for a byproduct of nicotine, called cotinine, which is made when the body comes into contact with tobacco smoke.

This revealed that people exposed to second-hand smoke were far more likely to have poorer hearing than others, and to a degree where they might struggle to follow a conversation in the presence of background noise.

Passive smoking increased their risk of hearing loss across all sound frequencies by about a third.

Dr David Fabry, who led the research, said: "We really do not know exactly how much smoke you need to be exposed to in order to be at increased risk. But we do know that the threshold for damage is very low.

"Really, the safe level of exposure is no exposure."

Dr Ralph Holme, head of biomedical research at the RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People), said: "We already knew from our own research that regular active smoking is a significant risk factor leading to hearing loss and this new study is important as it highlights the increased risks posed by passive smoking too.

"Hearing loss can often be very frustrating and lead to social isolation, if not quickly addressed.

"Before you next light up a cigarette, consider how it could impact not only on your own long-term hearing but your friends' and relatives' too."





Is smoking while pregnant harmful?

It is never safe to smoke. Smoking while pregnant:

  • Affects the placenta—the source of your baby’s food and oxygen
  • Lowers the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby
  • Increases:
  • Your baby's heart rate
  • The risk that your baby will be born prematurely
  • The risk that your baby will be born with low birth weight
  • Your baby's risk of developing respiratory problems
  • The chances of stillbirth
  • The risk for certain birth defects like a cleft lip or cleft palate
  • The risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Additionally, children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are at greater risk of:

  • Behavioral problems, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning disorders
  • Becoming smokers

Pregnant women who smoke should quit – if not permanently then at least through their pregnancy.

I am pregnant and I smoke. Is it too late to quit?

If you are pregnant, it is never too late to quit smoking. There are benefits to quitting smoking at any stage of your pregnancy. Quitting as soon as possible will help protect you and your baby from some health problems, such as low birth weight.

Shouldn’t it be easy for me to quit smoking while pregnant?

No. Quitting smoking is hard for most women. Women who were smoking when they got pregnant often have to make more than one attempt to quit for good.Learn more about quitting.

Is it harmful to smoke again after my baby is born?

You might think it is safe to start smoking again after your baby is born, but your baby is not out of harm's way. Babies who are around cigarette smoke:

  • Have weaker lungs than other babies
  • Are more likely to have health problems such as infections and more frequent asthma attacks
  • Are at increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Protect your baby.

  • Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child.
  • Do not smoke or let others smoke in your home or car.
  • Use childcare providers who do not smoke.
  • Do not eat in restaurants that allow smoking.
  • Do not take your child to other indoor public places that allow smoking.
  • Teach children to stay away from secondhand smoke.

I smoke. Can I breastfeed my baby?

Yes, you should breastfeed. Breast milk is good for your baby. However, smoking may make it difficult to breastfeed because it:

  • Changes your breast milk
  • Disrupt your baby’s sleeping patterns
  • May cause you to have problems releasing milk

For your health and your baby’s, you should quit smoking.

Passive smoking

According to Wikipedia the passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke, called second-hand smoke (SHS), or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), by persons other than the intended “active” smoker. It occurs when tobacco smoke permeates any environment, causing its inhalation by people within that environment.

Actually the passive smoking means inhalation of smoke that comes from someone else smoking. Unfortunately the passive smoking could be as dangerous as active smoking. Health risks for passive smoking are very similar to health risks for active regular smoking.

Active smokers produce tiny invisible particles which mix with the surrounding air and these dangerous particles (poisons) are breathed in by all people around and get right down into their lungs. This can be harmful to health of any person but children and pregnant women could be in higher risk.

Whenever people smoke, they actually force all people around to become passive smokers because all the others around smokers are “smoking” too at the same time – they are breathing in the same harmful substances as the person who is smoking.

Smoke dangerous substances

Scientists discovered that passive smoke contains many dangerous chemicals which can be breathed in by someone who is near a smoker. It was also noted that these chemicals stick to clothes, furniture, walls and inside the car. This is why it is very important to avoid passive smoking.

Tobacco smoke contains around 7,000 chemicals, made up of particles and gases, over 50 of which are known to cause cancer.

Passive smoking risks for children

Passive smoking increases the risk of illnesses in children including pneumonia, bronchitis, coughing and wheezing, middle ear infections and asthma or asthma attacks.

Passive smoking children are also more prone to getting colds, coughs and glue ear (middle ear infections). Their lungs show a reduced ability to function and slower growth.

Children’s passive smoking increases their risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

Passive smoking can trigger irritating the eyes and airways.

Smoking parents could increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in newborn children.

Observations demonstrated decreased learning abilities, problems in concentration and difficulties in languages in children who were passive smokers for years.

Young children exposed to passive smoking have more dental decay than other children.

Surveys demonstrated increased frequency of diabetes in children exposed to smoking.

Children exposed to passive smoke have an increased risk of meningococcal disease, which can sometimes cause death or disability.

Passive smoking risks for pregnant women

Passive smoking during pregnancy can be a cause for following abnormalities:

  • decreased fetal development;
  • low birth weight (not adequate to pregnancy duration);
  • miscarriage;
  • placental abruption and other placenta problems;
  • premature birth;
  • stillborn babies;
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Passive smoking risks for adults

 Passive smoking increases the risk of heart disease (mainly coronary heart disease).

Doctors noted that passive smoking makes the blood more ‘sticky’ which increased the risk clots leading to increased risk of various dangerous health conditions (heart attack and stroke).

Passive smoking is reducing the levels of antioxidant vitamins in the blood.

Intensive regular long-term exposure to passive smoking could also lead to the development of atherosclerosis.

Passive smoking partners have a 20-30% higher risk of developing lung cancer.

Unfortunately passive smoking can increase the risk of stroke, nasal sinus cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, long- and short-term respiratory symptoms, loss of lung function, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among people who do not smoke.

How prevent passive smoking

Develop special smoke-free rules in your house, office and car by just putting “NO smoking” magnets or posters.

Prepare the special place for smoking visitors in the garden, or in the corridor or any safe place.

Forbid children to visit places where adults can smoke.

Avoid places where people smoke (pubs, bars, discotheques, drunken parties).

Don’t allow smoking in any enclosed space where people who do not smoke spend time.

Make sure that all people who look after your children provide a smoke-free environment.

Why You Should Care About Thirdhand Smoke

By Becky Striepe

Have you ever ridden in a smoker’s car? That residual smell may be more than annoying. It’s called thirdhand smoke and could actually be harming your health.

We know that secondhand smoke can be as harmful as actually smoking a cigarette, but now there’s evidence that something called thirdhand smoke could damage our health, as well. A study published in PLOS ONE indicates that thirdhand smoke might be more than just an offensive smell. It may contribute to insulin resistance.

Thirdhand smoke is smoke residue on surfaces, like clothing and hair. When someone comes in from having a smoke and you can smell cigarettes on them, you’re inhaling third-hand smoke. According to the University of California Riverside (UCR) study, that smoke can cause type 2 diabetes.

UCR produced a short video highlighting the study on third-hand smoke and diabetes that’s worth a watch:

In a press release about the study, lead study author Manuela Martins-Green notes that children and the elderly are the most impacted by third-hand smoke. “Because infants frequently crawl on carpets and touch objects exposed to exhaled smoke, they are at high risk for THS exposure,” she explained. “The elderly are at high risk simply because older organs are more susceptible to disease.”

Third-hand smoke contains toxins that actually get more harmful over time. They can also react with other compounds in the air, increasing indoor air pollution.

This is not the first research into how third-hand smoke impacts our health. A 2013 Berkeley Lab study found that third-hand smoke causes cell damage, especially with chronic exposure. Third-hand smoke also damage our livers and lungs and make our bodies less effective at healing flesh wounds according to a 2014 study.

What’s more, getting rid of third-hand smoke is not as easy as washing your hair and clothes. It gets on everything in a smoker’s home, long after they’ve moved away.




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