It's not easy being a single parent, and for Jessica, it's especially challenging. Not only is she a student, a bank employee, and a handball player who competes nationally, this 28-year-old also is the mother of a child with severe asthma.
Jessica's son, Aden, was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with asthma. Although Jessica never smoked, many of Aden's attacks were triggered by exposure to secondhand smoke. Jessica's mother, who watched Aden during the day while Jessica was at work, was a smoker. Unfortunately, Jessica wasn't aware of the connection between secondhand smoke exposure and asthma. It took a visit to the emergency room for her to make that connection. "They kept asking me if I smoked, and I kept saying no. Then it dawned on me that he was around cigarette smoking while at my mom's house. "
Now Aden's daily routine consists of medicines he needs to take throughout the day, and when his symptoms flare up, an inhaler is used repeatedly for the next 24 to 48 hours. All of Aden's teachers have his medicines on hand should an asthma attack occur while he's in class.
Jessica says Aden's asthma is difficult for both mother and son. "Aden gets mad. He feels like he's the only kid that has this problem, and he really gets upset, " she says. The unpredictable nature of asthma is also hard on her, because "you never know when he's going to have an attack. "
Jessica got involved with the "Tips From Former Smokers " campaign because she wants people, especially first-time moms, to be more aware of their surroundings and not be shy about telling people not to smoke around their kids. "The causes of your child's illness can be lurking right under your nose and you don't even know it. Fortunately, my mom is trying hard to quit and she no longer smokes around Aden. " Jessica hopes her ad will help smokers understand the extent to which their smoking impacts others, especially children.
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- CDC/Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717