Second-Hand Smoke Risks
What is second-hand smoke anyway? We touched on it a bit in the introduction. When a person smokes, they are lighting the end and drawing in (dragging) on the cigarette. They inhale the chemicals in the tobacco mixture but, through a small filter at the opposite end of the cigarette.
The filter removes some of the substances but not all. As the cigarette burns and the person exhales, a cloud is formed. This smoking cloud doesn’t seem like much at first. Those who don’t like the smell will wave it away or relocate to another area. But, inside that smoke are hundreds of particles that can cause cancer and are also poisonous to the body. Worst of all, these chemicals are unfiltered, just waiting for someone nearby to inhale them again.
Second-hand smoke has been linked to cancer and other health risks in non-smokers. It is rare but not unusual to see cancer, especially lung cancer, showing up in these individuals. So what about pregnant women?
Pregnant women are encouraged to quit smoking (if they do) before they get pregnant. We know that smoking can lead to health problems in the body and when you are trying to support a life, you don’t want any of your systems to be compromised.
New research has also discovered that second-hand smoke has negative effects on the fetus as well. It is being shown that the effects in those breathing in the cigarette smoke are almost as damaging as those who are actually doing the lighting up.
So what can happen to your child? For one, babies born to women exposed to second-hand smoke may suffer from low birth weight. Low birth weight can affect the baby’s chances of survival.
Another survival risk is impaired fetal development. Babies can develop mutations that extend to their genes. The inhalation of cigarette smoke can pass down through the mother’s system and across the placenta to the baby. They may even develop an addiction to nicotine before birth.
Second-hand smoke can also increase infant health issues after birth. Babies exposed may have more problems with their ears, nose and throat (ear infections, respiratory illness, strep throat leading to tonsillar issues and asthma, to name a few).
Even if you do not smoke, your baby can reap ill effects if you are around someone who smokes. Second-hand smoke is proving to be just as damaging as being the primary source.