You probably already know about firsthand and secondhand smoke, and how they harm your health. But did you know about thirdhand smoke? Akron Children’s pediatric experts warn it is a dangerous health risk – especially for expectant moms and unborn babies.

Firsthand, secondhand smoke.
If it has been awhile since you thought about tobacco-related smoke exposure, here is a refresher:

• Firsthand smoke is inhaled by the smoker.

• Secondhand smoke is breathing in smoke from someone else who is smoking.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the residue that is left behind on surfaces by cigarette and tobacco-related smoke. It can be found in carpet, drapes, furniture, walls and on other objects exposed to smoke.

Have you ever walked into a hotel room that smelled like stale cigarettes? That was thirdhand smoke. A big problem with thirdhand smoke is that it builds up on surfaces over time and may stick around for months, if not years. When you or your child touches one of these surfaces, the toxins are released, breathed in and can enter the bloodstream. For a pregnant mom, when toxins enter her bloodstream, they are then shared with her baby.

Thirdhand smoke is bad for expectant moms and unborn babies.

Expectant mothers and their unborn babies are vulnerable to these hazardous residues and gases.

Secondhand smoke may increase potential problems in pregnancy, including complications with the placenta and during delivery. Babies may be born early, underweight, small or with birth defects. Infants exposed to thirdhand smoke before birth may be at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome. One study conducted by LA BioMed found that thirdhand smoke residue can have a detrimental effect on prenatal lung development, leading to respiratory issues later in life.

Remember, all thirdhand smoke was once secondhand smoke and should therefore be avoided during pregnancy.

What you can do.

Never allow smoking in your home, car or other enclosed space. Any smoking outside should be done away from other people, especially children. Do not be afraid to leave spaces where people are smoking, including restaurants, and friends’ and family members’ houses. If you enter a hotel room that smells like cigarette smoke, take the initiative to request a different room. In your own home, replace any furniture, drapes, carpet, clothes, etc., that have been exposed to cigarette smoke.

If you smoke, the best thing you can do is quit. You do not have to do it alone. See below for resources and organizations that can help you stop smoking for good.

Ohio Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program: 330-270-2855 x155
Mercy Health Regional Tobacco Treatment Center: 330-306-5010 x101