15 September 1998

New Risks For Smoking Mothers

The September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine contains some grim news for mothers who smoke.

Researchers in England (where one-third of mothers smoke during pregnancy) have been examining the impact of maternal smoking on respiratory function in preterm infants. They studied 108 infants who were born an average of seven weeks premature and found that respiratory function was compromised in the babies subjected to heavy tobacco smoke exposure in the womb, and that the adverse effects of tobacco smoke on infant breathing was evident some eight weeks before most babies are born. (Read The Paper)

It never rains, it pours. In the same journal, Australian researchers found that passive smoking in the first year of life increases the likelihood of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The researchers examined the airways of 19 SIDS victims whose mothers had smoked, and those of 19 infant victims of SIDS whose mothers had not smoked. The clinical investigators found increases in the thickness of inner airway walls in the large airways of infants whose mothers had smoked. These changes had caused significant physiologic abnormalities which contributed to airway narrowing, possibly causing their death from SIDS. (Read The Paper)