In general, the baby’s exposure to secondary smoking (breathing in other people’s smoke, also called passive smoking) should implicitly be avoided. Any family member who currently smokes at this point has a very compelling reason to quit: the baby’s lungs are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of cigarette smoke. The smoke contains poisons such as nicotine, tar or carbon monoxide. A smoker continues to exhale these poisons for several minutes after extinguishing the cigarette. In addition, passive smoking may even play a role in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Smoke can make the baby also more prone to, among others, respiratory infections, ear infections or asthma.
Today, tobacco smoke is the most harmful type of indoor air pollution. It contains the same poisonous, carcinogenic substances as the smoke that is inhaled directly. Some components of smoke take a long time to break down and remain in walls, ceilings, floors, clothes and furnishings. Smoking outside the house is still not riskless since the allergens and poisonous chemicals from the cigarette smoke can collect on the smoker’s hair and clothes and still manage to irritate the baby.
Smoking while breastfeeding is just as harmful as the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke are carried through the breastmilk to the baby. The same applies for as alcohol – as long as babies drink breast milk, they consume everything their mother does.
Plagiocephaly (flat head) or Dolichocephaly (long narrow head) are disorders that affect the head of a baby, making the back or side of a baby’s head appear flattened.
Plagiocephaly is caused by pressure from the outside on part of the skull for example by lying much time on their back as recommended. Preterm babies are at a higher risk for plagiocephaly or dolichocephaly since the cranial bones become stronger and harder only in the last ten weeks of pregnancy.
If parents notice that their baby develops a favourite side for the head, they should put the baby in turn to the head or foot end of the bed and change the position of the light.
Regular check-ups with a doctor are indicated when parents observe any anomalies or deformations. A physiotherapist can give advice on how to encourage the baby to be less one-sided.