During the periods of development from conception to birth are the most important and the most delicate periods in a child’s life to receive the best possible care and protection. Having a mother or father that exposes their child to cigarette smoke is one of the teratogens that the parents can control.
The reason that I was interested in this particular subject is because my son Larry, Jr. was born 6 weeks premature, weighing 3 lbs., and 7 ounces. While pregnant with my three children I did smoke with all three and Larry was the only one that was under weight, I always wondered if I had any effect on my child’s birth weight.
“The effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy on children’s birth weight has been recognizes since 1957, the first report concerning the adverse effects of environmental tobacco smoke on children’s health was published in 1967”. “Since that time, 150 studies of the effects of environmental on respiratory illness in children alone have been published. “A similarly large, general newer body of work clearly links both prenatal maternal smoking and the environmental tobacco smoke exposure to ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), behavioral problems, and neurocognitive deficits” (Simpson, 1957).
“Aligne and Stoddard estimated the annual excess in deaths in children younger than 5 years as a result of tobacco smoke exposure at close to 6000, exceeding deaths as a result of all injuries combined”. “Children’s exposure to tobacco constituents during fetal development and via environmental tobacco smoke exposure during childhood is perhaps the most ubiquitous and hazardous of children’s environmental exposures” (Aligne, 1997).
“The negative consequences of maternal prenatal smoking on infant prenatal growth and infant birth weight are well-documented. Along with that fact the real health threat to infants born prematurely or with very low birth weight, there is also awaiting smoke-affected infants the likelihood or a later chronic problem of excess weight and obesity. Evidence shows prenatally smoke exposed infant catch up in weight by age 6 months, although results of this accelerated growth are inconsistent across the body or research literature” (Sowan, 2000).
“Parents who choose to smoke are possibly not aware of, or deny, the negative effects of passive smoking on their offspring”. “The adverse effects of passive smoking on the health of the fetus and child are thought to be common knowledge”. “Surprisingly, 15–37% of women still smoke while pregnant.1–3 Although the number of Dutch infants (0–1 year of age) exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is decreasing, 36% were exposed to ETS in their homes, 6% during feeding, and 7% during car rides in 2000.4 Likewise, in the United States approximately 38% of children between 2 months and 5 years of age are exposed to ETS in the home.1 Even if a parent smokes outside the home, children could still face a high level of ETS exposure.5” (Arch...