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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2002 Feb 23;146(8):356-9.

[Negative effects of passive smoking on the (unborn) child].

[Article in Dutch]

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Erasmus Medisch Centrum, Sophia Kinderziekenhuis, afd. Longziekten, Postbus 2060, 3000 CB Rotterdam.


The negative effects of passive smoking on the health of the foetus or child continue to receive little attention, despite the large volume of research in this area. Passive smoking during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, a reduction in head circumference at birth, and a far higher incidence of sudden infant death syndrome. Exposure to cigarette smoke also leads to a decreased lung function, an increased risk of severe infections, including respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis, meningococcal disease and middle ear infections. There is no association between passive smoking and the development of allergic asthma, but passive smoking does cause an increase in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in children with or without asthma. Finally, there is a relation between passive smoking and behavioural disorders including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Passive smoking before birth seems even more harmful than after birth. A causal relationship is suggested in most studies, or has been proven by animal experiments. A decreased birth weight in general increases the risk of developing chronic diseases as an adult, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. This extensive knowledge about the adverse health effects of smoke exposure in (unborn) children deserves greater attention in the counselling of pregnant women, and in anti-smoking campaigns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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