Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and smoke breathed out by smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and approximately 70 of which are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of an infant in the first year of life. SIDS is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants. Smoking by women during pregnancy increases the risk for SIDS, and infants exposed to secondhand smoke are also at greater risk for SIDS.
Chemicals in secondhand smoke appear to affect the brain in ways that interfere with the regulation of infant breathing and infants who died from SIDS had higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) than infants who died from other causes, according to the CDC
Parents can help protect their babies from SIDS by taking the following actions:
*do not smoke when pregnant
*do not smoke in the home or around the baby
*do not allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with the windows down
*make sure your children’s day care centers and schools are tobacco free
*look for public places that do NOT allow smoking – “no smoking sections” do not protect you or your children from secondhand smoke
*put the baby down to sleep on their back.
Smoking is one of the most important causes of fetal/infant morbidity and mortality in the United States. As a result, in 2017 the health department began the Smoking Cessation and Reduction in Pregnancy Treatment Program in collaboration with our Safe Sleep initiative. The program assesses an individual’s exposure to tobacco smoke and counsels pregnant smokers on the dangers of first, second, and third-hand smoke.
The objective of the program is to inform pregnant women about the risks of smoking and to help her to significantly reduce her smoking levels for her health and the health of her baby through counseling and testing.
The use of a carbon monoxide monitor provides accurate data as a tool to educate and measure progress toward reducing smoking hazards and promoting a healthy environment for the infant and mother.
For more complete information on secondhand smoke, contact our office or visit the CDC at
https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts/index.htm. For e-mail updates on smoking and health, e-mail a request to email@example.com.