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Risks to your child’s lungs

What can parents do to protect children’s developing lungs?

There are many things that can affect children’s lung health. Some of these are out of your control, such as your child’s genes, gender and age. But there are things that you can do to protect your child’s lungs.

Avoid air pollution and tobacco smoke

We know that second-hand smoke and air pollution can both harm children’s lungs. You can reduce the risk to your child by:

  • stopping smoking and avoiding smoky environments
  • avoiding busy roads and junctions
  • walking instead of taking the car.

Read more about reducing your exposure to air pollution

Eat well

Physical and mental health depends on a lifestyle that includes a healthy balanced diet.

Get active

Being physically active is part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to be more active as a family:

  • make exercise part of daily life by walking or cycling to school
  • know how much activity is right for your child. Children under 5 who can walk should be active for at least 3 hours a day. Children aged 5-18 should do 60 minutes moderate to vigorous activity daily
  • lead by example – let your child see you enjoying being active

Further information

Signs of breathing problems in children: we explain what symptoms to look out for, what they mean, and when you should ask for help.


We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: September 2019. Due for review: September 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.