Babies, infants and children on the whole don’t smoke or so do we think! But, the reality says something different. In fact, infants and children belonging to smoker parents are forced to smoke because of ignorance by the latter – yes, I’m talking about passive smoking! But do you know about the consequences?
Well, children who are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke that is passive smoking, early in life are at greater risk of being hospitalized for infections than those brought up in a smoke-free environment, researchers from Hong Kong reported, recently.
The risk of being hospitalized was greatest among babies 6 months old and younger, but the increased risk persisted up until the children were 8 years old,
The findings suggest that passive smoking exposure may not only be harmful to children's respiratory tracts, but to their immune systems as well, the researchers Kwok and colleagues noted in their report in the journal Tobacco Control.
Even if smoking is banned in public places, babies and children may still be exposed to passive smoking at home. So, the risks remain.
While the danger that passive smoking poses, to children's developing respiratory systems is well understood, less is known about its effects on overall infection risks. To investigate, the researchers looked at a group of 7,402 children born in 1997 who were followed up until age 8. At the study's outset, nearly 42% were exposed to passive smoking at home.
Children who had been within 3 meters (or about 9.8 feet) of a person smoking cigarettes at any point during their first 18 months of life were 14% more likely to be hospitalized for any type of infection by 8 years of age, the researchers found.
The greatest difference was seen among infants, with 1 in 3 exposed babies being hospitalized for an infection by the time they were one year old. Exposure during the first 3 months of life had the strongest effect.
Premature and low birth weight infants seemed to be more vulnerable to the effects of passive smoking and they were twice as likely to be hospitalized for an infection by age 8 than unexposed children.
The researchers concluded that passive smoking exposure in early infancy, instigates all infectious illnesses and not just respiratory and related infections. And again, this may even have a larger and more long-lasting impact in developmentally more vulnerable subgroups, such as premature or low birth weight infants.
So, if you fall among the ignorant smoker parent’s group, just do bother to keep your children away from passive smoking, at least from now on – that is of course, if you care! Gift your children a smoke-free home and not hospital!
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