Naptime Short for Smoking Moms
September 4, 2007
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New moms who are breastfeeding their infants would do themselves and their babies a favor by not smoking.
Moms would help themselves, according to new research, because babies with smoking mothers take shorter naps due to exposure to nicotine expressed in breast milk. Also, numerous studies have linked exposure to secondhand smoke in infancy to multiple health problems, including a greater likelihood the child will start smoking in adolescence.
Researchers observed 15 breastfed infants over two days for three and a half hours each day. On one day, mothers smoked between one and three cigarettes right before breastfeeding. On the second day, the mothers abstained from smoking. The mothers provided samples of their breast milk each day, and the researchers tested it for cotinine levels, a key byproduct of nicotine.
On the smoking day, babies slept on average about 53 minutes during the three-and-a-half-hour period. On the nonsmoking day, they snoozed about 84 minutes, a third longer. Results were directly linked to the amount of cotinine in the mothers' milk.
The authors note many women quit or cut down on smoking while they are pregnant but pick the habit up again after they deliver their baby, possibly thinking it's OK if they just don't smoke around their child. Researchers report this is not the case -- smoking around the time of breastfeeding passes nicotine along to newborns.
The researchers suggest moms who just can't kick the habit at least refrain from smoking for the three hours before each feeding. They also report more research is needed to identify potential harmful effects on infants who consume nicotine-laced breast milk and call for public health programs to educate new moms on the risks of smoking.
"Clearly, there is a need for targeted smoking cessation programs that address issues relevant to lactating women," write the authors. "Perhaps concerns that their milk will taste like cigarettes and their infants' sleep patterning will be altered could be used in a relapse prevention strategy to motivate lactating mothers to abstain from smoking and to breastfeed longer."
SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online Sept. 4, 2007
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