More young people are killed by exposure to their parents’ cigarette smoking than by all accidents combined, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
This is potentially the biggest preventable cause of death in young children, the report concluded.
It linked secondhand smoking to premature deaths caused by low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infection, and asthma.
Parental smoking also costs the nation $4.6 Billion dollars a year in medical expenses and another $8.2 Billion dollars in loss of life, said the two pediatricians who worked on the study.
“There are lots of things that affect children's health, that reduce their chances for happy, successful lives,” said one doctor. “But here we have something we know how to prevent.”
Exposure to secondhand smoke can decrease lung growth in children, stunt their growth, cause asthma, and increase their lifetime risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.
It is even dangerous before birth, as smoking during pregnancy has been linked to serious physical consequences.
Pediatricians across the country encourage parents to quit smoking, and they try to persuade their teenage patients not to start.
We should all support these efforts.