Fourth on Our List of Alerts to Health Hazards of Children

Cigarette Smoke

Creative Commons License photo credit: lanier67

Fourth Alert

4. Baby’s blood pressure control and heart rate control are damaged by smoke exposure during pregnancy, due to smoking by pregnant mother, father and/or anyone else nearby. This may explain why such babies’ risk of cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher.

Health experts consider maternal smoking as one the biggest risk factors of  SIDS.

Dr Gary Cohen and his team of researchers from Sweden’s Karolinksa Institute report the following results:

  • babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke show abnormal heart rate and blood pressure responses
  • these abnormal responses get worse throughout the  smoke-exposed babies’  first year of life
  • at one week of age the smoke-exposed babies show abnormally large blood pressure rises as they are lifted up from lying down
  • then at the age of one, these babies who are  exposed to smoke apparently adapt to this and now show abnormally low blood pressure responses to the same posture change

Dr Cohen says,  “This study reveals for the first time that early life exposure to tobacco can lead to long-lasting reprogramming of the infant blood pressure control mechanism.”

Here are important advice from the following health experts:

  • cut smoking in pregnancy – fathers too, and don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby (Professor George Haycock, Scientific adviser for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID))
  • pregnant women who smoke are urged to seek advice and support from their midwife about stopping smoking because smoking during pregnancy can harm the developing foetus (Janet Fyle, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives); and this cessation of smoking benefits both mother and child