Skip to main content

Nicotine exposure in pregnancy linked to cot death

Nicotine exposure during pregnancy, whether from smoking cigarettes, or nicotine patches and e-cigarettes, increases risk of sudden infant death syndrome – sometimes known as “cot death” – according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant under 12 months of age occuring typically while sleeping. Failure of auto resuscitation, the ability to recover normal heart rate and breathing following gasping caused by lack of oxygen in the brain, has been recorded in human SIDS cases.



Smoking increases risk for SIDS

Over the last decade, use of cigarettes has declined significantly, however, over 10% of pregnant women still smoke during pregnancy. Over recent years nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine patches or e-cigarettes, have been prescribed to women who wish to quit smoking during their pregnancy. However, nicotine replacement therapies may not protect infants from SIDS. 

With increasing numbers of nicotine patch and electronic cigarette users during pregnancy, there is an increasing urgency to better understand the impact of nicotine exposure on the development of babies during pregnancy.

Nicotine affects baby's brain

The normal biological mechanisms protecting infants fail to work.
The researchers showed that exposure of the mother to nicotine during pregnancy can affect the baby’s central nervous system and impair the baby’s cardiorespiratory responses to stressful environments, e.g. asphyxia, especially in babies who have both serotonin and serotonin receptors deficiency in the brain. 

This can damage a key biological mechanism called auto resuscitation that protects the infant from a severe lack of oxygen. Such a failure increases the likelihood of SIDS because the infant is unable to recover from environmental stresses that cause lack of oxygen, such as getting tangled in bedding, a minor illness or a breathing obstruction.

Nicotine patches or e-cigarettes not safe in pregnancy 

This research suggests that the use of nicotine patches or electronic cigarettes are not a safe alternative to cigarettes during pregnancy, because exposure to nicotine by any route may be harmful to a baby’s cardiorespiratory function and increase the risk of SIDS.

The research conducted by the Geisel school of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire, tested whether use of nicotine during pregnancy and nursing is more likely to elicit autoresuscitation defects in developing animals. They exposed rats to nicotine through maternal blood or milk and then looked at their response to repeated periods of severely low oxygen.
Stella Lee, the corresponding author of the study, commented on future research

Sudden infant death syndrome is such a distressing tragedy for families. We still don’t fully understand the causes, but this research is important because it helps mothers reduce the risk.

Aihua Li, a senior author on the project added “We will continue to identify the possible predictors of risk and consider how we can treat infants who have a compromised autoresuscitation mechanism.”


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services.

It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared.

Utilitarian ethics considers the balan…

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well.

No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing.

The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party.

That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team.

Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more widel…

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods. 
Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects? 
A new report now provides some of the answers.

New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases caused by …