A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Secondhand smoke: How bad is it for kids?

Mother and child waiting while stranger smokes at a bus stop, illustration - How secondhand smoke effects kids

Secondhand smoke has proven to be bad for children leading to an increased chance of developing asthma, lung infections and many other conditions.

Secondhand smoke has proven to be bad for our health, but research shows it is even worse for children.

Children who are subjected to smoke from cigarettes are more prone to:

  • Develop asthma or worsen its symptoms
  • Lung infections
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Issues with cognitive functioning
  • Develop lung cancer in adulthood

Dr. Laura McCauley, pediatric pulmonologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System, said the primary concern for children and secondhand smoke is asthma.

“We know that kids who are around secondhand smoke are at a higher risk of asthma and have a harder time controlling it,” McCauley said.

Kids subject to secondhand smoke tend to require higher doses of asthma medication. They are also more likely to end up hospitalized than those who are not around it.

“Once they are removed from the smoke, the control of their asthma is definitely better. They may even come off all their medications,” McCauley said.

Preventing secondhand smoke

There are many ways to reduce the effects of smoke from cigarettes on children. However, there is no way to completely eliminate the effects as long as you are smoking.

McCauley said children can still have elevated levels of toxins from the smoking in their system even if you are doing everything you can to prevent it.

It is definitely better to smoke outside, change your clothes and shower afterwards to help reduce the effects,” McCauley said.

She also recommends not smoking in the car because the smoke can get into the seats and cause the same issues.

For more information about secondhand smoke and its effects on children, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Related Shine365 articles:

Smoking while pregnant: How bad is it for my baby?

Your kid is smoking: What you should know

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