Smoking during pregnancy doubles the risk of SIDS

Smoking during pregnancy

The researchers at AI For Good Research Lab at Microsoft used Microsoft Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to analyse the mothers' cigarette smoking habits for all of the births included in the study.

The researchers looked at more than 20 million births, including more than 19,000 unexpected infant deaths, and discovered that smoking just one cigarette a day while pregnant can double the likelihood of sudden and unexpected infant death.

The risk was highest among heavier smokers. Successfully quitting smoking was associated with a 23% reduction in risk.

"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".

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

Quitting smoking before pregnancy reduced the risk of SUID by over 20 percent, while scaling down the cigarette habit during pregnancy reduced the risk by over 10 percent.

"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.

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The study wasn't a controlled experiment created to prove whether or how smoking causes SUID.

The harmful effects of smoking are not unknown.

Smoking during pregnancy can be harmful for the baby. Moving forward, the team hopes these results inspire lawmakers to get women the support and encouragement they need to quit smoking before becoming pregnant.

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

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. "When these infants sleep, these basic functions may be compromised resulting in SIDS".

Babies exposed to smoke in the womb or early in life may be especially vulnerable to these hazards, said Anna Pease, a researcher at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom who wasn't involved in the study. "In babies that have been smoke exposed, their wake up system does not trigger as soon as it should and we think this could be partly why these babies are more likely to die (of) SIDS".

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