Can Passive Smoking Cause Asthma in Children?

Passive smoking is a recognized risk factor for the development of asthma symptoms or worsening of pre-existing asthma or an asthma attack in children. Children are particularly sensitive to tobacco smoke as their lungs are smaller and more delicate and are still developing.

Risks of passive smoking in children with asthma:

  • Passive smoking may increase the risk of a sudden asthma attack in children.
    Can permanently damage the tiny airways in children.
  • They are more likely to have to go the emergency department with severe asthma flare-ups.
  • They may develop severe asthma that’s harder to control, even with medication.
  • Passive smoking may block the benefits of controller asthma medicines.
  • It can also force the use of rescue medicine more often.
  • It badly disturbs children’s sleep making them cough more at night and can affect how well they perform in sports or other physical activities.

What the studies say about passive smoking and children with asthma?

  • Children who live with smokers have higher rates of asthma than children living with non-smokers.
  • Children with asthma who live in homes where one parent smokes are twice as likely, than children with asthma whose parents do not smoke, to take time off school due to a respiratory illness. If both the parents smoke, then the asthmatic children is four times as likely to be absent from school.
  • Studies show that even if a child does not suffer from asthma, but both their parents smoke, they will have a 40% higher chance of being absent from school due to a breathing illness.
  • Studies have shown that exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to the development of asthma in children who were not born with it.
  • Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to have respiratory problems and are ten times more likely to develop asthma.