Miami Children's Hospital
Local: 305-666-6511
Toll Free: 800-432-6837
My Kids Patient Portal
Search
Advanced Search

Pediatric Center
In this section

Care Guides

Secondhand smoke and its risk to children ADAM

  PRINT    
     Bookmark and Share

 

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. This mixture contains more than 4,000 substances, more than 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, and many of which are strong irritants.

Exposure to secondhand smoke is called involuntary smoking, or passive smoking.

 

Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers

 

Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of lung cancer in humans. Passive smoking is estimated by EPA to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year.

 

Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk to children

 

The developing lungs of young children are also affected by exposure to secondhand smoke. Infants and young children whose parents smoke are among the most seriously affected by exposure to secondhand smoke, being at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

EPA estimates that passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have reduced lung function and symptoms of respiratory irritation like cough, excess phlegm, and wheeze.

Passive smoking can lead to buildup of fluid in the middle ear, the most common cause of hospitalization of children for an operation.

Asthmatic children are especially at risk. EPA estimates that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children. EPA estimates that between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking may also cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the condition each year.

Created by the Environmental Protection Agency. Illustration copyright A.D.A.M., Inc.

 

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial proces and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.