Research

A recent study found that the risk of Sudden Infant Death doubles if women smoke during pregnancy

Mothers who smoke any number of cigarette, even one a day, during pregnancy more than double the risk of their baby die before their first birthday. These findings were published in Pediatrics.

Smoking increases your baby’s heart rate. Moreover, it also increases the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth. It may also increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely or born with low birth weight.

Women smoking an average of between 1 and 20 cigarettes a day rise the chances by 0.07 with each cigarette. But women who smoked before their pregnancy saw an increased risk in their infant deaths from sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). It is an unexplainable death of a healthy child less than a year old.

Though many people discern that smoking is the primary cause of preventable death in the US. It is less appreciated that some of these deaths are newborn babies.

Findings of the study

Researchers don’t entirely understand why cigarettes are responsible for infant death, but they think it has somewhat to do with nicotine’s effect on regions of the brain. That interferes with a sleeping and breathing patterns of a baby. Smoking can also constrain the flow of blood which carries oxygen and nutrients between mother and baby.

Researchers examined information on smoking habits in pregnant women, who had given birth between 2007 and 2011. This was done to understand how SUID deaths relate to maternal cigarette use. The data of pregnant woman was collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 20 million live births collected in the data set, over 19,000 were credited to SUIDS or related accidental suffocation or strangling while asleep.

Those pregnant women who cut back on smoking by the third trimester saw a 12% decrease in risk. On the other hand, those who effectively quit were linked to a 23% reduced risk. But, mothers who smoked 3 months before their pregnancy but quit in the first trimester still had a greater risk of SUID than non-smokers.

According to the researchers of the study, women need to understand that quitting smoking before and during pregnancy certainly results in the utmost reduction in SUID risk. Those pregnant women who are unable to quit completely, every cigarette they can reject will reduce the chances of their child dying unexpectedly from SUID.

Limitations of the study

The researchers note that their study is limited to “conservative smoking estimations”. This is because their data set does not include environmental smoke exposure during pregnancy or postpartum, including fathers who smoke. They only support that maternal smoking has been associated with premature deaths in newborns.

In reality, some studies have found that smoking is the “strongest prenatal changeable risk factor for SIDS in developed nations.

By using these statistics, physicians can better recommend pregnant women about their smoking habits, knowing that the number of cigarettes daily smoked during pregnancy considerably impacts the risk of SUID.

Like public health movements which educate parents about the significance of infant sleep position. It leads to a 50% decrease in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates. Researchers hope counseling women about this risk will result in fewer babies dying from these awful causes.

Sophie Abram

Sophie Abram is an author at Top Health Journal. She has a master’s degree in Biochemistry. Evidence-based nutrition is her passion and she loves to devote her career to informing the general public about it. She has extensive experience as a researcher and her research focus is within food reformulation, improving food supply and food environments. Her research examines how nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise affects human body composition. Twitter- @abram_sophie

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