Everybody knows the detrimental effects of smoking on your health. It’s common knowledge and even written on the side of every cigarette packet. We know that smoking can shorten your life expectancy, increase our risk of lung cancer (one in 11 smokers will die of lung cancer), and increase the risk of chronic lung disease or having a stroke or heart attack.

 

As a paediatrician, I occasionally meet parents who smoke, and when I try to talk to them about how smoking can affect their baby, I get the same response “I never smoke at home” or “I never smoke near my kids”.

 

Respect the Research

 

Here are a few facts that many smoking parents don’t know, or prefer to ignore:

 

— We all know that second hand smoke is bad for your health but there is ‘third-hand smoking’, particles of smoke that cling to the smoker’s skin, hair and clothes. It’s quite easy to smell a smoker, even from a few feet away. Babies can still inhale these particles and it does affect their health. Babies of parents who smoke absorb the amount of nicotine of 60 to 150 cigarettes a year (depending on how heavily their parents smoke).

 

— Babies of parents who smoke are 37 percent more likely to develop asthma, and attacks can be even more severe and frequent.

 

— Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

 

— Smoking parents will ‘endow’ their kids with the increased chance of suffering from bronchiolitis and pneumonia by up to 54 percent, if both parents are ‘generous’.

 

— Second hand smoker kids do worse in maths, reading and visual — spatial skill tests. Their IQ can be two to five points lower than children of non-smoking parents.

 

— Your cigarettes can affect your baby much earlier than you think. Studies show that fathers who are smokers at the time of conception have an increase risk of their babies suffering from cancer, particularly leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumours by up to 80 percent compared with non-smoking fathers. The risk is high even if the mother is a non-smoker, and is higher the more cigarettes the father smokes and the longer he smokes.

 

So before you take another deep inhalation from your cigarette think about your baby. Don’t they have a right to be healthy?

 

Dr. Jonathan Halevy is a paediatrician at the Ho Chi Minh City clinic. For more medical advice visit Family Medical Practice, www.vietnammedicalpractice.com or go to 298 I Kim Ma, Ba Dinh Hanoi; Diamond Plaza, 34 Le Duan, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City; 50-52 Nguyen Van Linh, Danang

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