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Effects On Children

Effects on an unborn baby

During pregnancy smoking deprives an unborn baby of needed oxygen and other nutrients. This may result in:

  • problems with intellectual ability and behaviour
  • low birth weight that puts baby at risk
  • reduced lung function
  • miscarriage
  • complications in pregnancy
  • stillbirth

The best chance for a healthy baby and a healthy mother is a pregnancy when you are both protected from exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS).

Effects on young children

Secondhand smoke contains toxic materials that can cause cancers. Children are especially at risk from SHS because:

  • they breathe more air relative to body weight and as a result absorb more tobacco smoke toxins
  • their immune systems are less protective
  • they often can’t speak for themselves or their complaints are ignored by adults

Children should also be protected from thirdhand smoke - the smoke and toxins that settle on furniture, carpets, fabrics and on surfaces and remain long after the smoking has stopped.

Health problems in children

Secondhand smoke has been linked with:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • croup, pneumonia, tonsillitis
  • middle ear infections
  • increased asthma attacks and severity
  • childhood cancers and leukemia
  • slower growth
  • poor attention span
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