How Secondhand Smoke Hurts Babies & Kids

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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Secondhand smoke has more than 50 chemicals that are known to cause cancer in adults. Because babies and young kids’ bodies are growing, the poisons in secondhand smoke hurt them more than adults.

Secondhand smoke can lead to the following in babies and young children:

  • SIDS
    Babies who are around secondhand smoke—from their mother, their father, or anyone else—after they are born, are more likely to die of SIDS than children who are not around secondhand smoke.

  • Low birth weight
    Mothers who breathe secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have a baby weighing 5½ pounds or less. Babies who are born this small are weaker and have a higher risk for many serious health problems.

  • Weak lungs
    Babies who breathe secondhand smoke have weaker lungs than other babies. This increases their risk of many health problems.

  • Sick more often
    Kids whose parents smoke around them get bronchitis and pneumonia more often.

  • Asthma
    Secondhand smoke causes kids who already have asthma to get more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

  • Chronic lung problems
    Secondhand smoke causes lung problems, including coughing, too much phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness among school-aged kids.

  • Ear infections
    Kids exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for ear infections. They are also more likely to need surgery to get ear tubes for drainage.


For more information, read: NCI Factsheet, Secondhand Smoke: Questions and Answers Exit _disclaimerCDC, Secondhand Smoke What It Means To You Exit _disclaimer(PDF)


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