Children of smokers are three times as likely to develop serious infections requiring hospital treatment and also run an increased risk of cancer, according to two recent American studies.
The first, published in the American Journal of epidemiology, compared about 200 children with cancer against controls.
The conclusion of the researchers was that smoking during pregnancy increased the risks of leukaemia and cancer for the child by at least 30 per cent.
Even children exposed to smoke from fathers are at risk suggesting that smoking can somehow damage male sperm.
At least 6 per per cent of all childhood cancers and l7 per cent of acute lymphocytic leukaemia could be due to maternal smoking.
The other study showed children who had been hospitalized with infectious diseases of the digestive or respiratory system were more likely to live with a smoker.