Smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the developing baby. When a pregnant woman is exposed to tobacco smoke, harmful substances absorbed into the mother’s bloodstream can cross the placenta and affect her unborn baby.
Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature babies, low birth weight, childhood malformations and sudden infant death syndrome.
Smoking to an unborn child also has harmful effects on the developing lung and immune system resulting in decreased lung function at birth and increased allergic and asthmatic responses in childhood.
Seeking help from people experienced in the problems of giving up smoking is also helpful. This is particularly important for women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy so that safe options are recommended and made available to them.
Children are at a higher risk of damage from passive smoking than adults because of their smaller bodies, higher breathing rates and less developed respiratory and immune systems.
Children from smoking families are more likely to take up smoking themselves.
Children should be kept in an environment where no one smokes around them. Places like inside a car that the child is traveling in, when your friends are visiting and even in the care of another person or baby-sitter should be kept smoke free. It is important to encourage friends and family who smoke not to smoke around children if possible.
Children exposed to Environmental Tobacco Smoke are more likely to develop a range of illnesses including middle ear infections, croup, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia and asthma compared to children living in smoke-free environments. Impaired learning, slower growth and changes in behavior can be linked with children’s exposure to passive smoke.
Children of smoking parents are about twice as likely to have symptoms of asthma before they are five years old.