Effect of Parents Smoking over Children may Harm Reproductive Ability in Adulthood

Effect of Parents Smoking over Children may Harm Reproductive Ability in Adultho

About 59 percent of American children ages 4–11 are exposed to secondhand smoke at home. Studies have shown that children (especially infants) of parents who smoke have more lung illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can develop asthma. And because smoking parents are more likely to cough and spread germs, their children are more likely to develop chest illnesses. Exposure to tobacco smoke also increases the risk of heart disease.


Exposure to cigarette smoke (sometimes called "passive smoking") is another cause for runny noses and wheezing in young children. Because more women of childbearing age are smoking, passive smoking is a more common cause of respiratory infection in children. Passive smoking is now linked to infections and asthma in children.Secondhand smoke is also known as environmental tobacco smoke, passive smoking, involuntary smoking and a newer, more descriptive term, tobacco smoke pollution.

Secondhand smoke may cause disease and death in children and nonsmoking adults. Breathing secondhand smoke can be harmful to children's health and can cause or contribute to asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis and pneumonia and ear infections.

According to WHO; over half of all children aged 13–15 years are exposed to ETS (exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke or passive smoking) at home in the majority of the countries for which comparable information is available. In the Balkans and the Caucasus, exposure exceeds 90%.In infants and young children, exposure to ETS increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),acute lower respiratory tract infections, chronic respiratory symptoms, middle ear disease, decreased pulmonary function and asthma. In children with asthma, ETS increases the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that exposure to ETS during childhood may cause lymphoma and brain tumours.

A study included 244 children ages 4 to 12 without any history of lung or airway disease. They were divided into four groups according to the smoking pattern of their parents: never smokers, smoking after birth but not during pregnancy, during pregnancy but not after birth, and both before and after birth. The researchers found that children of smoking parents had significantly reduced lung function similar to that seen in smokers. Smoking after birth appeared to be more harmful than smoking during pregnancy alone.

Regardless of what you call it, both types of secondhand smoke contain harmful chemicals — and a lot of them. Specifically which chemicals are present depend on the type of tobacco product, how it's smoked and the paper in which the tobacco is wrapped. More than 4,000 chemicals make up the haze of secondhand smoke. And more than 60 of the chemicals in cigarette smoke are known to be carcinogenic, which means they may cause cancer.

Tobacco smoke is irritating to the airways in several ways. Smoke is made up of chemicals and very small pieces of ash that remain in the air long after the cigarette, pipe, or cigar is out.Children with asthma who live in a household with a smoker have more breathing problems, need to take more medicines, and have more emergency room visits than children who live in smoke-free homes.

Twelve-year-olds whose parents smoked were more than two times aslikely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of13 and 21 than were children whose parents didn't use tobacco,according to a new study that looked at family influences on smokinghabits. The research indicated that parental behavior about smoking,not attitudes, is the key factor in delaying the onset of dailysmoking.

The health effects of tobacco smoking are related to direct tobacco smoking, as well as passive smoking, inhalation of environmental or secondhand tobacco smoke. A 50 year study of over thirty-thousand British physicians showed that nonsmokers lived about 10 years longer than smokers. For those born between 1920 and 1929 the standardized mortality rate between the ages of 35 and 69 for nonsmokers was 15% and for smokers was 45%, three times as great.

Women who were exposed to their parents' smoking as children may have a higher likelihood of suffering a miscarriage, new research suggests.

In a study of nearly 2,200 non-smoking pregnant women, researchers found that those exposed to their parents' secondhand smoke during childhood were 80 percent more likely to have a miscarriage compared with women whose parents didn't smoke.The findings appear in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

It's known that parents' smoking can harm developing fetuses and children, contributing to early-life problems like low birth weights and asthma. But this is the first study to show a link between childhood exposure to parents' smoking and reproductive ability in adulthood, according to lead author Dr. John Meeker, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and associates.

More research is needed to confirm the finding, Meeker, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences, told Reuters Health. However, he added, the results fit in with the body of research showing that early-life exposure to environmental stressors -- including tobacco smoke -- may have health effects that manifest in adulthood.

Exposure to lead in early childhood is thought to result in delayed neuropsychological development. As yet there is little longitudinal evidence to establish whether these effects persist into later childhood.The findings are based on pregnancy outcomes of 2,162 women who underwent assisted reproduction treatments at one of three Boston fertility clinics.

The researchers found that a woman's risk of miscarriage tended to go up in relation to parents' smoking, being highest among those exposed to secondhand smoke from both parents.

It's not fully clear why childhood exposure to tobacco smoke would affect a woman's miscarriage risk. However, Meeker and his colleagues point out that tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals, including some that are known or thought to harm reproductive health -- such as lead, benzene and cadmium.

The developing reproductive system in children may be particularly vulnerable to such exposures. "It is known that childhood is a developmentally sensitive period during which the body is susceptible to adverse effects from hazardous exposures," Meeker explained.

"Children of smokers can experience very high levels of secondhand smoke exposure at home, in the family car, and in other locations."There is "more than enough" evidence from medical studies to tell us that children need to be shielded from secondhand smoke, according to Meeker.

"Our results," he said, "suggest that we should prevent these exposures not only for the health of our children, but perhaps our grandchildren as well."

In a recent study on the effects of second-hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure among children ages two weeks to four years, researchers at Columbus Children's Hospital confirmed that even a child whose parents smoke outside the home in places like the garage is exposed to higher levels of ETS, as measured by the child's hair cotinine (HC) level. Most importantly, researchers found that children whose parents believed smoking was harmful were likely to have lower HC values than other children.

Children who have at least one parent who smokes have 5.5 times higher levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine, in their urine, according to a study by researchers.To prevent children from smoking, parents should not smoke, and they should tell their child that they disapprove of smoking.
One study reported that preschoolers whose parents smoke are more likely to view themselves as future smokers. School children who believed that both their parents strongly disapproved of smoking were less than half as likely to smoke as those kids whose parents did not show as much disapproval towards smoking.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading reason given for death among infants one month to one year old. Studies have shown that sharing a bed with parents who smoke increases the risk of SIDS.Paediatricians should not be complacent about the hazards of passive smoking for children and that public health education efforts should be continued.

Researchers identified a new strategy for parents who don't want their children to smoke or drink: don't let them watch R-rated movies. A new paper in the January/February 2002 issue of Effective Clinical Practice states that children who are not restricted from watching R-rated movies are three times more likely to smoke or drink alcohol compared to those who are never allowed to watch them.

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