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CHILDREN EXPOSED TO SMOKE RISK LUNG CANCER –Paediatricians

Pediatricians have cautioned Nigerian mothers against exposing their children to any form of smoke, noting that smoke pollution puts children at risk of severe short and long-term health problems, Punch Newspaper reports.

According to the experts, children who are exposed to smoke pollution are more at risk of developing lung cancer and type 2 diabetes in the future and may even suffer cognitive impairment that could lead to learning disabilities.

The experts noted that such children could also suffer a stroke and may die from the health condition, warning that the effect of exposure to smoke can occur immediately or take a day or days to manifest.

They stressed that studies have confirmed that children exposed to smoke are at risk of serious health complications.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, a paediatrician at the department of paediatrics at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna, Dr. Anisa Lawal asked mothers to keep their children away from cigarette smoke, firewood smoke, kerosene smoke, incense smoke and smoke from automobiles.

According to Dr. Lawal, aside from the long-term health risk of smoke pollution in children, it may also irritate their eyes, nose, and throat and subsequently, lead to cough, difficulty in breathing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

She explained that shortness of breath may occur as a result of inhaling some toxic and tiny substances that are found within the smoke itself.

Dr. Lawal noted that an agent found in smoke is carbon monoxide which can impair oxygen delivery to tissues leading to headaches, confusion, dizziness, and even loss of consciousness.

The pediatrician explained further that exposure to secondhand smoke can also affect the well-being of asthmatic children.

She said, “When a child is exposed to smoke, it can act as a trigger to acute asthmatic attacks in patients that have asthma or even hyperactive airway disease.”

“This can lead to frequent asthmatic attacks and subsequently poor school performance.”

Dr. Lawal said, “It has also been shown that children with chronic exposure to smoke may have some level of cognitive impairment leading to learning disabilities.”

“Exposure to secondhand smoke can hinder the growth of their lungs and put them at risk of severe respiratory diseases as they are still growing.”

“It can also cause intrauterine growth restriction in a baby if the mother smokes cigarettes and also increases the chances of preterm delivery with low birth weight.”

Exposure increases the child’s risk of asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, middle ear infection and sudden infant death syndrome,” she warned.

Studies, she said, have shown that maternal cigarette smoking is the strongest risk factor leading to sudden infant death syndrome.

Studies, she added, have also shown that children born to women who are not smokers but are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy and those born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD.

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