A number of studies have been reported lately that link various health problems in babies and children to pre-natal or 2nd hand cigarette smoke. It is well established that women who smoke or are exposed to smoke while pregnant have a greater chance of having babies with low birth weight, pre-mature birth, SIDS and lung problems, etc. Some recent studies present additional evidence of cardiovascular and pulmonary problems due to smoking.
In Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association a study of 456 babies show that mothers who either smoked or were exposed to smoke while pregnant had babies with significantly higher systolic blood pressures than babies born to women who did not smoke or were not exposed to 2nd hand smoke.
In another study of 244 kids 4-12 years old it was found that kids whose parents smoked had reduced lung function similar to that of people who smoke themselves. Children whose parents smoke also have lowered endothial function in their arteries – a sign of damage (Circulation).
A nicotine byproduct called cotinine can be found in the urine of babies who have even one parent who smokes. Compared to babies without parents who smoke, babies with a smoking parent have 5.58 times as much cotinine (Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition).
Additional recent research tying health problems to women smoking include women having a 59% greater chance of begining menopause before age 45 (BMC Public Health). Other research shows a connection between smoking and stillbirths – women who smoked during their 1st and 2nd pregnancy had a 35% greater chance of still birth (BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology).
Considering all the evidence indicating how damaging cigarette smoke is to babies and young children it surprises me that there are still women with children who smoke. Of course it can be difficult to avoid 2nd hand smoke sometimes – especially if family members smoke or if someone works in a place that allows smoking.
Even if someone doesn’t care about the health of people around them – I would have thought the threat to one’s own health would be enough to convince more people to stop.
— More on that thought in Smoking Part 2 (coming soon).
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