A new study has found that smoking during your pregnancy can treble the chances of your child developing meningitis; they also believe that a child exposed to smoke around them in their home can also be at risk of contracting the lethal illness.
Experts have said that in excess of 600 children a year develop meningitis as a result of smoking. Passive smoking has been proven to weaken an immune system.
Meningitis is extremely serious; it kills 1 in 20 under 5's, and disables 1 in 6. In 2012 alone, there have been 2,500 new cases of meningitis being diagnosed in youngsters.
A recent NHS survey showed that 13% of women who give birth are smokers; that equates to 95,000 new mums each year!
A research team at the University of Nottingham have reviewed the findings from 18 studies, that looked at a possible link between meningitis and passive smoking.
They found that children who were from mothers' that smoked during pregnancy, were three times more likely to develop meningitis, and under 5's are two and a half times more at risk of developing meningitis from passive smoking.
The study was published in BMC Public Health .
Dr Rachael Murray, the lead researcher at the UK Centre for Tobacco Studies at Nottingham University, said "We estimate that an extra 630 cases of childhood invasive meningococcal disease every year are directly attributable to second-hand smoke in the UK alone".
Even though the study has not managed to show how the smoke is linked to meningitis, Dr Murray is confident that the findings show a clear danger. "The findings from this study highlight consistent evidence of the further harms of smoking around children and during pregnancy, and thus parents and family members should be encouraged to not smoke in the home or around children".
This is one of the first studies that has looked at a link between smoking during pregnancy and meningitis.
Meningitis infects the protective membrane around the brain and the spinal cord. If not treated quickly or efficiently enough it can cause brain damage or nerve damage.
- a rash
- high temperature
- a dislike of bright lights
If you have any concerns or worries about your child's health, then you should speak with your doctor.
If you want help quitting smoking then click here.
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