Health risks linked with passive smoking

07 May 2016


Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of premature death and disease and are more likely to have thickening, irritation and inflammation of their airways.

Second-hand smoke can impair a baby’s breathing and heart rate, which can put the baby at a higher risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI including SIDs and fatal sleeping accidents). If parents smoke during pregnancy and after their baby is born, their baby’s SIDS risk increases. The more second-hand smoke a baby is exposed to, the higher the risk of SIDS.

If children are exposed to second-hand smoke, they’re more likely to develop a range of lung and other health problems, including:
       •  asthma
       •  bronchiolitis
       •  bronchitis
       •  childhood cancers, including leukaemia
       •  croup
       •  ear infections
       •  impaired sense of smell
       •  meningitis
       •  meningococcal disease
       •  pneumonia
       •  tonsillitis.

Exposure to second-hand smoke can increase the likelihood of behaviour problems and learning difficulties for children.

And exposure to second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke can affect a child’s developing brain because the brain is very sensitive to even very small amounts of toxins.


Raising Children Network, (2010). Second-hand smoke and your child. Raising Children [Online]. Available: [May 12, 2010]

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