Skip to main content

You are here

Risks to your child’s lungs

Protecting your child's lungs

On this page, we provide information about how to protect your child’s lungs while they continue to grow. 

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

Avoid air pollution 

We know air pollution can harm your child’s lungs. You can reduce the risk by: 

  • walking or cycling, instead of driving 
  • walking on the inside of the pavement
  • avoiding busy times of the day for traffic
  • avoiding busy roads and junctions.

Read more about reducing your exposure to air pollution.

Avoid tobacco smoke 

If you smoke, the best thing you can do for you and your child’s lung health is to quit. You can also: 

  • avoid smoky environments
  • make sure people you know do not smoke around your child 
  • teach your children to stay away from second-hand smoke. 

Eat well 

Maintaining a healthy weight will help ensure your child’s lungs grow well. Their physical and mental health also depends on a healthy lifestyle, so a balanced diet is important. 

You should encourage your children to eat lots of fruit and vegetables. The NHS has more information on choosing the right diet and getting active.

The NHS also has help for eating healthy during pregnancy.

Exercise

Keeping fit and doing regular exercise is good for your child’s lung health. Studies have shown that keeping fit during childhood can lead to better lung function in adulthood and lessen the chance of your child going on to develop a lung condition.   

You can help your child to keep fit by: 

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

If you have any concerns about your child’s lung health, you can always call our friendly helpline team on 0300 222 5800 – we’re open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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: June 2022. Due for review: June 2025

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.