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Are you a parent who smokes? Read this.

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  June 27, 2013 07:36 AM

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smoking .jpgAre you a parent who smokes?

If you quit, you:
  • Add an average of 7 years to your life
  • Eliminate most of your child's exposure to tobacco
  • Eliminate all the pregnancy risks associated with tobacco exposure
  • Get rid of the most likely reason you'd have a fatal house fire
  • Make it less likely that your child as a teen will have access to cigarettes and become a smoker
  • Will have more money (cigarettes are expensive)
You also make it much more likely that you will live to see your grandchildren. One out of two smokers dies from a disease caused by their smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing one out of five deaths overall.

As a pediatrician, I talk to parents a lot about smoking, because:
  • Smoking during pregnancy and infancy increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Children whose parents smoke get sick more often than those whose parents don't--they get more pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections
  • The lungs of children whose parents smoke may not develop normally
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke can trigger asthma attacks
  • It can affect the future health of children: exposure to second hand smoke at home or work increases the risk of lung cancer by 20-30 percent.
A study just released in the journal Pediatrics showed that pediatricians can make a big difference when it comes to getting smoking cessation advice and information to parents. Makes sense, since we are invested in the health of our patients--and parents see us way more than they see their own doctors. 

But all we can do is give advice and information. When it comes to actually quitting, well, that's up to you. 

There's lots of help available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has all sorts of resources, and you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for assistance. Here in Massachusetts, visit the Make Smoking History website for more information and resources.

You can do it. Your life, and your child's life, depends on it. Do it for both of you.

Is there something you'd like me to write about? Leave me a message on my Facebook page--and "like" the page for links to all my MD Mama blogs as well as my blogs on Thriving and Huffington Post. 


This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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