Fort Worth, Texas,
11:09 AM

Secondhand smoke and your child

How your smoking impacts your child

Every winter this happens: A nurse says, “Can you go in room 4 and listen? I think they need a breathing treatment.” I put my hand on the door, walk in and I am hit in the face with the smell of cigarette smoke.

Some good news this week about smoking rates: Gallup reported that smoking rates tied an all-time low with only 20% of adults reporting having smoked a cigarette in the last week.

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do. I have seen motivated patients put them away, but come back to them when stress or cravings became too much. Your doctor (you know, the one for adults) can talk to you about all the health benefits for you and I recommend a conversation with them. However, I think one of the best motivators for quitting is your child’s health. Here are a few of the problems that secondhand smoke can cause for your child’s:

  1. Increased risk for prematurity (smoking by pregnant moms)
  2. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  3. Increased upper respiratory infections
  4. Worse asthma-wheezing is more common and more severe
  5. Ear infections

As you can see the effects of secondhand smoke exposure have a wide variety, some more severe than others. Unfortunately, strategies like smoking outside and changing shirts are not as effective as quitting altogether.

Believe me, I am willing to do anything I can to help your child with asthma breathe easier. I will use all the medicines and treatments at my disposal and ultimately put them in the hospital for more help if needed. However, the best thing you can do to help is to quit smoking.

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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