Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Medical | By

Smoking Just One Cigarette During Pregnancy Doubles Risk Of Sudden Infant Death

Smoking Just One Cigarette During Pregnancy Doubles Risk Of Sudden Infant Death

The researchers posit that SUID deaths would decrease by over 20 percent if all women stopped smoking during pregnancy, preventing approximately 800 infant deaths every year.

Researchers at Seattle Children's Hospital analyzed data from 20-million births.

Turns out, for pregnant women, smoking even one cigarette a day can double the chance of sudden unexpected death of the baby.

To understand how SUID deaths relate to maternal cigarette use, researchers analyzed data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on smoking habits in pregnant women who had given birth between 2007 and 2011.

If no women smoked during pregnancy, Anderson and her co-authors estimate that 800 of the approximately 3,700 deaths from SUID every year in the USA and other parts of the world could be prevented, lowering current SUID rates by 22 per cent.

To see how smoking while pregnant affected the likelihood of SUID, the researchers examined data from almost 20 million births between 2007 and 2011 while also taking into consideration mothers' smoking habits.

They also found that there was a 23 percent decrease in the risk of SUID for women who completely quit smoking and a 12 percent decrease in risk for women who reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by the third trimester.

Mothers who smoked three months before pregnancy but quit in the first trimester still had a higher risk of SUID than women who don't smoke, the study found.


The harmful effects of smoking are not unknown.

Researchers also estimated that 800 deaths of the 3,700 total SUIDs every year in the USA could be prevented if women abstained from smoking during pregnancy.

Lead author Tatiana Anderson, from the Seattle Children's Research Institute said, "With this information, doctors can better counsel pregnant women about their smoking habits, knowing that the number of cigarettes smoked daily during pregnancy significantly increase the risk of SUID".

The researchers did find ways for women to reduce their risk of SUID.

Anderson says the data from this study supports public health efforts aimed at encouraging women to quit smoking well before pregnancy.

Both parents should quit smoking before trying to conceive, said Michael Gradisar, a psychology researcher at Flinders University in Australia who wasn't involved in the study.

"All babies have an arousal, or wake up, system that triggers if they don't have enough air around the face, for example if covered with a blanket", Pease said by email.

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