International Health News

Sudden infant death syndrome linked to mother's smoking

HYATTSVILLE, MARYLAND. An American-Swedish medical research team has just released a study which shows a clear correlation between maternal cigarette smoking and the risk of the baby dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) during its first year of life. The team reviewed the records for over seven million live births in the United States and Sweden and found almost 8700 cases of SIDS. The death rate from SIDS varied from 0.8 per 1000 births among Hispanic and Asian babies to 3.0 per 1000 births among American Indian babies. The rate in Sweden was 0.9 and in the United States it was 1.1 among non-Hispanic white babies. There was a clear correlation between the mother's smoking status and the risk of SIDS. The risk of SIDS among babies whose mothers had smoked one to nine cigarettes per day during pregnancy was from 60 to 150 per cent higher than for babies born to non-smoking women. The risk for babies born to heavy smokers (10 or more cigarettes per day) was 130 to 280 per cent greater. The increased risk attributable to the mother's smoking was independent of other established risk factors for SIDS (low maternal age, low birth weight, more than one child already born to the mother, and prone [face downwards] sleeping position of the baby). The researchers conclude that maternal smoking during pregnancy is an important and entirely preventable risk factor for SIDS, but they do not rule out that postnatal exposure to secondhand smoke could be a contributing factor as well.
MacDorman, Marian F., et al. Sudden infant death syndrome and smoking in the United States and Sweden. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 146, August 1, 1997, pp. 249-57

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