Smoking around toddlers as harmful as smoking during pregnancy

You shouldn’t need more data on the dangers of smoking, but here’s some anyway. A study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research finds that smoking around your toddler may be just as harmful to your child as smoking during pregnancy.

Canadian researchers found that by age 10, children exposed to secondhand smoke as toddlers tended to have wider waists and a higher body mass index (a calculation of body fat) than children not exposed to the smoke. This excess weight develops just when it could have serious long-term consequences. “Early childhood exposure to secondhand smoke could be influencing endocrine [hormone] imbalances and altering neurodevelopmental functioning at this critical period in … development, thus damaging vital systems which undergo important postnatal growth and development until middle childhood,” the researchers said.

Household smoke could negatively influence children’s immune, neurodevelopmental and cardiovascular processes. These systems are more vulnerable than those of adults to the toxic effects of secondhand smoke, they say, and they conclude that public health programs should educate parents on the importance of eliminating young children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.

If someone in your home smokes, help him or her to quit.

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