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Secondhand Smoke (cont.)

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Secondhand smoke and other effects on children

In addition to the risk of pneumonia and respiratory infections in babies exposed to secondhand smoke (see above), passive smoke is known to increase the severity of asthma in children with this condition. Middle ear infections in children are also occur as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Secondhand smoke and the effects on pregnant women

Like women who smoke, pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of having low-birthweight babies.

Secondhand smoke and the possible link to breast cancer

The question of whether or not passive smoking is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer is currently a source of both investigation and controversy. Breast cancer risk in active smokers is not known to be increased, yet some studies have found a possible link to breast cancer with exposure to passive smoke. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General's report concluded that there is "suggestive but not sufficient" evidence of a link at this point.

Is there a safe level of secondhand smoke?

While, logically, more extensive or prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, is associated with greatest risk of having medical problems as a result, no safe limit for exposure to secondhand smoke has been established. Even low levels of secondhand smoke can be harmful. This means that all exposure to secondhand smoke should be avoided whenever possible.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/15/2016


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