Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Wish...

Its that time of the year again where people embark on long journeys, ditch their bosses for a while just so they can celebrate Christmas with family and friends. For many also, it's a season when there'll be plenty to eat & drink.

Growing up, as children, we would make Christmas wishes and we always got excited when they are fulfilled. However, for some people, Christmas brought no respite from the everyday challenges they faced as it was just another day amongst many and as a result, some have inoculated ourselves from the pain so they do not have to go through the hassles of wishing for something they know will never come true.

Whatever class we belong, those who still have Christmas hopes or those who associate the season with unpleasant thoughts, our one wish this Christmas will be of value to everyone and it is that we see a smoke-free Nigeria emerge from the current status. As a nation with a varied number of health challenges including losing children at unripe ages, we see the emergence of a smoke-free Nigeria as a key contributor to ensuring our current high child mortality rate is reduced significantly.

If you are a mom/mom-to-be that smokes or you know anyone that does, kindly consider or relay this information below and we believe that after this, you'll be able to help make our Christmas wish come true - 

How smoking affects your baby:

Weight and size

On average, a pack-a-day habit during pregnancy will shave about a half-pound from a baby's birth weight. Smoking two packs a day throughout your pregnancy could make your baby a full pound or more lighter. While some women may welcome the prospect of delivering a smaller baby, stunting a baby's growth in the womb can have negative consequences that last a lifetime.

Body and lungs
Undersize babies tend to have underdeveloped bodies. Their lungs may not be ready to work on their own, which means they may spend their first days or weeks attached to a respirator. After they're breathing on their own (or even if they did from the start), these babies may have continuing breathing problems — because of delayed lung development or other adverse effects of nicotine. Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are especially vulnerable to asthma, and have double or even triple the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Babies whose mother smoked in the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have a heart defect at birth.

Researchers analyzed data on 2,525 babies who had heart defects at birth and 3,435 healthy babies born in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., between 1981 and 1989.

Brain function
Smoking during pregnancy can have lifelong effects on your baby's brain. Children of pregnant smokers are especially likely to have learning disorders, behavioral problems, and relatively low IQs. 

In summary, we're saying is stop smoking and if you don't smoke, help someone to stop and let's make it possible for our children to live in a smoke-free Nigeria. 

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Keep it OUT!

Kick It OUT!

Just yesterday, a friend relayed a story to me that was mind-blowing yet sad. He was in the UK and the weather was cold, wind chilly as everyone sought ways to keep warm by covering up as much as possible. As he boarded the bus, a sight caught his attention. It was that of a young family with a husband and his wife were walking with their baby. As the guy was doing the pushing of the buggy, he was reminded how times have changed indeed with men more involved in rearing their kids beyond just providing keep-money. Since the wife was free of 'hand-baggage', he took a second look only to find a shocking sight - She was puffing away.

He told me a myriad of questions went through his mind wondering 'Is she aware of the dangers of smoking to her baby? How often does she smoke daily? Is her husband aware of the harmful effects of smoking for children? Is her doctor aware she smokes? Has she been warned by any medical personnel? Is she just choosing to ignore the consequences? Surely, she can sacrifice for her child, right?

Refusing to believe or accept that the lady in question is a bad mother, his thoughts were on how far-reaching the damage she is causing not just to herself but her baby and spouse too is. It seemed the classic case of shooting oneself in the foot and blaming others.

Researchers in the UK recently analysed three existing studies from New Zealand, Cardiff and the United States and published the result in a medical journal, JAMA Psychiatry. The studies were focused on understanding conduct problems in children between ages four and they found a link between maternal smoking and behavioral disorders in children. There was also observed increase in level of disorder with increase in the amount of cigarettes smoked. 

Based on undeniable findings, they reached a conclusion that prenatal tobacco smoke exposure was contributing significantly to subsequent conduct disorder in children as they grow as its consequences were no longer restricted to prenatal risk but rather extend to the lifespan and affects the quality of life for countless individuals.

Infact, in another poll conducted by Pfizer asking smokers how they funded their smoking habits in tougher economic times, it was revealed that smoking parents were often more willing to reduce their child's quality of life than go without cigarettes. This is surely a lifestyle behaviour we do not want future generations to emulate. Lets keep smoking menace OUT of Nigeria.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Parental Smoking Affects Kids

There’s plenty of data showing how harmful smoking can be, and that goes for both smokers and the people around them. Two studies published in Pediatrics point out the indirect yet harmful effects smoking can have. A study of paternal smoking in Hong Kong finds that children whose fathers smoke are heavier at seven and 11 years old than their counterparts who have non-smoking dads; and investigation of children in Britain and Brazil finds that moms who smoke may  trigger behavioral problems in their children.

In the Hong Kong study, researchers at the University of Hong Kong studied a unique cohort of six thousand five hundred & nineteen (6519) children born in 1997, for whom health records and information on household smoking was available. Among the cohort, more fathers than mothers lit up, and children of smoking fathers showed a greater change from average BMI charts than those whose fathers did not. 

Because fathers in the Chinese culture have a minimal role in diet and lifestyle choices of their children, the authors speculate that the fathers’ cigarette habit affect their children’s obesity via biological mechanisms, through second hand exposure.

The second study, led by Marie-Jo Brion at the University of Bristol, aimed to adjust for all of the usual factors that might influence children’s mental and social health states—these included factors such as depression in the parents, parental education, the family’s social status and income, and parental alcohol consumption. 

By comparing two populations—a middle class group in Britain and a lower income group in Brazil, where smoking rates are generally higher—the researchers also hoped to isolate smoking effects that are independent of socioeconomic status. If the effect of lighting up persisted in both groups, they surmised, then it would suggest a stronger potential causal relationship.

In the end, mother’s smoking increased by an average of 53% the risk that children in both populations would be aggressive, break rules, bully, cheat or otherwise display disobedient behavior, compared to kids of non-smoking moms. 

The effect of paternal smoking was nearly half that of maternal smoking, which leads the researchers to conclude that smoking’s effect on behavior is occurring during pregnancy. Among both groups, an average of 18% of mothers continued to smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day during pregnancy, despite public health messages warning about the potentially harmful effects of the habit on the growing fetus.

Other studies have shown that while there are many factors important in delaying or preventing daily smoking, the biggest enabler to children initiating smoking is parental smoking as "It really is a matter of 'do as I do' not 'do as I say' when it comes to smoking."

We are therefore urging all Nigerian parents to join and support the Tobacco Control Campaign in Nigeria to save themselves, their children & children's children from the smoking scourge.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Calling on all Nigerian Mothers

A few weeks ago, I was driving back home in Abuja and came across a sight I have not seen too often in a while. There was a man driving beside me as we came to a roundabout. His passengers were all kids about five in number. I noticed one of driver's hands was outside the car and took a second look to discover he had a lit cigarette in it. 

Before we headed in different directions, I did see him take a puff and asked myself many questions ranging from 'Is this man the father of the children? Does he know the harmful effects of smoking on himself and/or children? How long has he smoked for? Could this man not wait to get to his destination before taking a puff privately? Does he do this regularly i.e. have children in the car while he smokes? Is his wife and/or mother of the kids aware he smokes with the kids in the car?'

Indeed, many questions but little opportunity to hear from the horse's mouth. The incident also left me wondering how many adults across Nigeria are taking a ride, smoking with kids in the car with the windows open or closed.

Thus, this brings to sharp focus the level of awareness parents in the country have about smoking, its addictive powers, its harmful effects on children & its influence on their future lifestyle choice of being smokers or not. There is statistical data that proves parents who smoke cause many health problems for their children, some of these include making asthma worse, bringing on more colds and ear infections, and increasing the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Also, studies show older children whose parents (one or both) smoke get sick more often as second-hand smoke (ShS) can cause serious health problems for children as breathing shs is almost like your child smokes herself. Therefore, exposing your child to shs ensures s/he comes in contact with the dangerous chemicals cigars, pipes & cigarettes are known to contain.

Even parents who smoke but do so outside do not fully protect their children from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke as its residue stays on walls, floors, furniture, toys, and clothes long afterwards.

On their own, parents can help protect their children from secondhand smoke (shs) by taking the following actions:
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car. Opening a window does not protect your children from smoke.
  • Use a smoke-free day care center.
  • Do not take your child to restaurants or other indoor public places that allow smoking.
  • Teach children to stay away from secondhand smoke.

It is commonly said when you train a girl child, we have trained a generation. So, in recognition of the pivotal role mothers play in raising children, we wish to draw attention to their understanding of the smoking prevalence in Nigeria.

The current situation calls for all hands on deck as we seek to nip the bud a growing trend of teenagers and other young people becoming smokers while we increase awareness amongst adults of the negative impact their smoking habit has on children nation-wide.

Mothers, lets support the tobacco control cause in Nigeria so we can have a smoke-free Nigeria NOW.!

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