Health hazard for children: middle ear infections due to passive smoking

Passive smoking poses a major risk to children's health

Smokers who light cigarettes in the presence of their offspring endanger the health of the little ones massively. Passive smoking in children can cause otitis media, among other things.

Smoking also puts people at risk

Smoking not only harms your own health, it is also dangerous for others. According to older international data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO), passive smoking kills 600,000 people annually. Studies have shown that passive smoke can particularly favor heart diseases such as heart attacks, respiratory diseases such as asthma and lung cancer. Passive smoking is a major health hazard, especially for children.

Inflammation of the middle ear due to the smoke of the parents

Passive smoking is a major risk to unborn babies and children and adolescents, warns Dr. Freerk Prenzel, senior physician at the clinic and polyclinic for pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Leipzig University Hospital.

"If a toddler constantly suffers from otitis media and his things smell like smoke, doctors and nurses, but also aunts and grandmothers should become aware," said the expert in child pneumology and child allergy in a message.

"Because otitis media could be a consequence of the parents smoking - and the child constantly being passive."

Developmental damage that can be felt throughout life

Although it is well known that smoking damages the health of the unborn child during pregnancy, thousands of expectant mothers keep on smoking.

If pregnant women smoke themselves or if they are exposed to constant tobacco use, developmental damage can occur in the expectant child, which can have a negative impact on their later life.

In extreme cases, this damage can even lead to premature birth or miscarriage.

"Sudden child death, malformations, impaired lung function, circulatory diseases, intellectual development disorders and behavioral disorders are also associated with indirect nicotine consumption," explains Dr. Prenzel.

Children on the balcony endanger smoking

Even if the child is born and the parents smoke, the dangers are no less. The lurking middle ear infections then still belong to the harmless diseases, according to the expert.

Because lung infections and asthma, cancer, metabolic disorders and changes in the immune system are not uncommon.

"Daily exposure to tobacco smoke is the biggest problem," says the Leipzig pediatrician.

“And if the parents want to calm themselves down by saying that they only smoke outside on the balcony - I have to say: Studies show that the substances that are released when smoking are on the hands, clothing and then also have it detected in house dust, ”says Dr. Prenzel.

“And the little ones crawl around on the carpet. No wonder then that the nicotine breakdown products can be found in the children's urine. ”

No cigarettes in the car

From the doctor's point of view, smoking the parents in the car is a “significant risk to one's own children”. It doesn't matter whether the air conditioning is running, a window is open or not.

Even a single cigarette has a very intense effect on a cubic meter of more or less closed space.

In some countries, smoking in the car is prohibited when there are children on board.

Stop smoking

According to Dr. Prenzel would see the consistent implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the achievement of the medical journal “Lancet” by 2040 of reducing the number of smokers among five percent of the population as a huge step for children's health .

"In Germany, the ban on smoking for most restaurants, the partial restriction of tobacco advertising and the printing of clinical pictures on cigarette packs has made a lot of difference," said the doctor.

"Still, I consider it a fundamental mistake not to completely ban tobacco advertising."

At the same time, he is certain that smoking must not only be branded, but also help smokers to get rid of the addiction.

Quit smoking, among other things, portals like "" from the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) can help with information.

"I do something for myself with non-smoking, I do something for my children with non-smoking and I do something for my wallet with non-smoking - if it were possible to plant this knowledge in the brains of smokers, a lot would be gained," said the pediatrician. (ad)

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