02 June 2015

Boy living in 'smoky house' taken from parents

A two-year-old boy in the UK has been placed for adoption after a judge heard concerns about the level of cigarette smoke in the family home.


Smoking around young children has been linked to infection and even death, warned Health24 resident doctor, Dr Owen Wiese, following a case in the UK where a two-year-old boy was placed for adoption, owing in part to the level of cigarette smoke in the family home.

"Smoking around children is harmful to their health and markedly increases their risk of developing chest infections, ear infections and asthma."

The dangers of smoking near children

He pointed out that according to some studies smoke exposure in very young children can potentially be linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Giving her ruling in the family court in Hull, Judge Louise Pemberton said the matters raised about the boy's welfare led to an unavoidable and difficult conclusion.

The two-year-old boy has problems with his breathing and uses an inhaler.

According to The Guardian the level of cigarette smoke was only one of a number of concerns raised.

Read: Second-hand smoke impairs cough reflex

Some of the other concerns included that the home was unhygienic; the boy's toy box was covered with loose electrical wires; domestic violence; neglect; and a failure to provide adequate food. Health professionals also expressed concern about the father's use of cocaine and his receiving therapy for mental health issues.

'A visible cloud of smoke'

A health care worker described in detail how she had never seen such a "smoky house" in her 10-year career, according to the BBC. She claimed that she had difficulty breathing when she visited the family home, where she saw a visible cloud of smoke surrounding the father and the boy, who was unwell at the time and sleeping on the sofa in the living room.

Judge Pemberton said the risks to the boy, who suffers from breathing problems and uses an inhaler, staying with his parents, were too great. "Adoption really is the only option now available."

Pemberton added, according to The Morning Bulletin, that she wanted the boy to know that his parents loved him deeply.

"I want him to know that in my judgment his parents love him very much and tried very hard, but they were simply not able to meet his needs", she was quoted as saying.

Read: 7 natural techniques to help you quit smoking

The parents of the boy denied that they smoked in the house; however, the father admitted that there was thick smoke at the property.

"Parents often deny smoking around their children, saying that they smoke outside the house," according to Dr Wiese.

"What they have to realise is the fact that cigarette smoke still gets caught in their clothing and therefore a child is still exposed to smoking."

Dr Wiese said this case is very sad, but, in his opinion, unfortunately not unique.

Also read:

Mom found guilty of killing 5-year-old son with salt

Dad throws 5-year-old daughter off bridge

Childhood trauma may put you at a greater risk of high blood pressure

Image: Man lighting up a cigarette from Shutterstock.


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others. Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute.

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