Nav: Home

Smoking during pregnancy doubles the risk of sudden unexpected infant death, study warns

March 11, 2019

The first findings to result from a collaboration between Seattle Children's Research Institute and Microsoft data scientists provides expecting mothers new information about how smoking before and during pregnancy contributes to the risk of an infant dying suddenly and unexpectedly before their first birthday.

According to the study published in Pediatrics, any amount of smoking during pregnancy - even just one cigarette a day - doubles the risk of an infant dying from sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). For women who smoked an average of 1-20 cigarettes a day, the odds of SUID increased by 0.07 with each additional cigarette smoked.

"With this information, doctors can better counsel pregnant women about their smoking habits, knowing that the number of cigarettes smoked daily during pregnancy significantly impacts the risk for SUID," said Dr. Tatiana Anderson, a researcher in Seattle Children's Center for Integrative Brain Research and lead author on the study. "Similar to public health campaigns that educated parents about the importance of infant sleep position, leading to a 50% decrease in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rates, we hope advising women about this risk will result in less babies dying from these tragic causes."

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 U.S. could be prevented, lowering current SUID rates by 22%.

Data deep dive provides detailed view of smoking's impact on SUID risk

To better understand how smoking contributed to SUID risk, the researchers used computational modeling techniques to analyze maternal cigarette smoking habits for all U.S. live births from 2007 to 2011.

Of the about 20 million live births included in their analysis, over 19,000 deaths were attributed to SUID with the specific cause of death occurring from SIDS, an ill-defined and unknown cause, or accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

Beyond overall cigarette consumption, the researchers also looked at how smoking before pregnancy, and cutting back or quitting smoking during pregnancy, affected SUID risk.

Compared to the over half of pregnant smokers who did not reduce their smoking during pregnancy, women who reduced cigarette consumption by the third trimester saw a 12% decrease in SUID risk. Successfully quitting smoking was associated with a 23% reduction in risk.

Their analysis also showed that mothers who smoked three months before pregnancy and quit in the first trimester still incurred a higher risk of SUID compared to non-smokers.

Need for smoking cessation before pregnancy

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

"The most important takeaway is for women to understand that quitting smoking before and during pregnancy by far results in the greatest reduction in SUID risk," she said. "For pregnant women unable to quit entirely, every cigarette they can eliminate will reduce the odds of their child dying suddenly and unexpectedly from SUID."

One of the study's co-authors, Juan Lavista, Senior Director of Data Science, AI For Good Research Lab at Microsoft, explains how the research team applied Microsoft Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) technology to better understand SUID and potentially save lives.

"Using A.I., we built machine learning models that analyzed millions of pieces of data on child births and deaths, including mothers' smoking histories, allowing us to do something that was not done before: assess the impact that each additional cigarette has on SUID at this level of granularity," he said. "Through our AI for Humanitarian Action initiative, Microsoft data scientists will continue studying other causes of SUID alongside Seattle Children's and SUID experts around the world."
-end-


Seattle Children's

Related Smoking Articles:

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.
No safe level of smoking
People who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than people who never smoked.
Nearly half of women who stop smoking during pregnancy go back to smoking soon after baby is born
A major new review published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that in studies testing the effectiveness of stop-smoking support for pregnant women, nearly half (43 percent) of the women who managed to stay off cigarettes during the pregnancy went back to smoking within six months of the birth.
If you want to quit smoking, do it now
Smokers who try to cut down the amount they smoke before stopping are less likely to quit than those who choose to quit all in one go, Oxford University researchers have found.
Cochrane news: Have national smoking bans worked in reducing harms in passive smoking?
The most robust evidence yet, published today in the Cochrane Library, suggests that national smoking legislation does reduce the harms of passive smoking, and particularly risks from heart disease.
Advocating for raising the smoking age to 21
Henry Ford Hospital pulmonologist Daniel Ouellette, M.D., who during his 31-year career in medicine has seen the harmful effects of smoking on his patients, advocates for raising the smoking age to 21.
Stress main cause of smoking after childbirth
Mothers who quit smoking in pregnancy are more likely to light up again after their baby is born if they feel stressed.
As smoking declines, more are likely to quit
Smokeless tobacco and, more recently, e-cigarettes have been promoted as a harm reduction strategy for smokers who are 'unable or unwilling to quit.' The strategy, embraced by both industry and some public health advocates, is based on the assumption that as smoking declines overall, only those who cannot quit will remain.
Smoking around your toddler could be just as bad as smoking while pregnant
Children whose parents smoked when they were toddlers are likely to have a wider waist and a higher BMI by time they reach ten years of age, reveal researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte Justine Research Centre.
Smoking and angioplasty: Not a good combination
Quitting smoking when you have angioplasty is associated with better quality of life and less chest pain.

Related Smoking Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".