H/T Harley, I’ve been musing over this all day, on and off :
Atherosclerosis in children can begin in the womb as passive tobacco smoke crosses the placenta, leading to low birth-weight and impaired lung development. The condition can lead to blood clots and strokes later on in life. (my emphasis)
Smoke crosses the placenta?
I wouldn’t mind if they’d said “some of the constituents of tobacco smoke”. But they didn’t. They said “smoke”. And that meant that there’s billowing smoke inside pregnant women, and their babies are inhaling it. Well, how else does it lead to “impaired lung development”?
Not being a woman, I’m not much of an expert on gynaecology, mostly because I don’t expect to get pregnant any time soon. But I always had the impression that babies don’t actually start breathing until they are born, very often with a smack on the back to help them get started, as shown in countless movies. And the reason the little critters don’t breathe is because there isn’t any air in there, and they float in amniotic fluid. Perhaps an experienced mother reading this can help out here.
But then, if tobacco smoke can get in, I suppose that air must be able to as well. So maybe a womb is a big airy place like Victoria station. In fact, if tobacco smoke can get to a developing baby, then it must be able to get absolutely anywhere. So it’s not just that a womb is like Victoria station, but that the whole interior of the human body is like Victoria station.
We must all be hollow, and when we smoke a cigarette, it must fill up every nook and cranny inside us, from the tips of our toes to the insides of our empty heads. And here was me thinking we just breathed it into our lungs, and the rest of our bodies were full up with hearts and kidneys and intestines and brains and bones and blood vessels, and it was next to impossible for smoke to get anywhere, particularly down arms and legs.
And then I thought, well, if we’re all hollow inside, like inflatable plastic dolls, then it ought to be possible for us to be squeezed down into a really small bundle of skin for the purposes of air flights, and re-inflated when we got to the other end. I wondered if Easyjet did this yet, for a small extra charge? Perhaps that’s how they managed to fit so many people onto their cheap flights, and didn’t offer any meals? Because when you’ve been rolled up into a bundle, it’s a bit hard to eat anything?
Anyway, the more I thought about it, the idea that tobacco smoke could get into developing babies’ lungs began to do extreme violence to my understanding of human physiology, and replace it with a notion of the interior milieu of human beings as a pretty airy place, like Victoria station, in which tobacco smoke could easily blow from one end to the other, and where there might even be No Smoking signs everywhere. And it also began to do damage to my idea of air travel. In fact, it began to completely dismantle everything I thought I knew about absolutely everything.
I think I’m going to write to Dr Julia Dratva, of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and ask her how tobacco smoke manages to get to the placenta. Perhaps she’ll write back and say that it just blows in there, because a woman’s womb is much like Victoria station, and smoke easily blows around inside it, and that we’re all hollow inside, a bit like inflatable dolls, and we could have the air inside us squeezed out, and be rolled up into little bundles, for easy transportation by Easyjet.
But if she replies and says, “Oh no, smoke doesn’t get in there. It’s only some of the constituents of smoke that get there – via the blood stream from the lungs,” I’ll ask her to request that the Washington Post correct their article, by adding “the constituents of”, and to apologise to any readers who gained the misapprehension that people were hollow inside like Victoria station, and could have the air squeezed out of them, and be rolled up into little bundles for easy transportation.
Like Frank Davis in England, for example.
Anyway, here’s Bryan Ferry singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes…
And once it’s got in there, it gets into your baby’s eyes, and shrivels them up into little black prunes. And it causes cataracts too. Not just in your own eyes, but also in the eyes of anyone you make eye contact with, and thus pass the smoke from one eye to another eye. In fact it causes cataracts in anything you look at, including washing machines. It’s true! I read it somewhere, while I was on an Easyjet flight, rolled up in a little bundle, and squinting at a travel magazine, with one eye inflated with tobacco smoke.