Smoking during breastfeeding is a common question we always receive from moms in our community. Smoking moms are always concerned when it comes to breastfeeding their babies. We interviewed Dr. Adel Khattab, Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at Ain Shams University, to tell us about the negative effects of smoking on babies.
“The transfer of smoking chemicals to breast milk is debatable. However, the danger lies in the smoky air surrounding the baby that results in a passive smoking infant,” Dr. Khattb explained. “A percentage – 25% – of the mother’s smoke reaches her baby. This means that from every 4 cigarettes she smokes, the child smokes one cigarette.”
Negative effects of passive smoking on babies:
- Fussiness and restlessness
- Respiratory diseases
- Sudden infant death syndrome
Fussiness and restlessness
A study stated that the amount of nicotine transferred to breast milk is twice that of nicotine transmitted through the placenta during pregnancy. The study also claimed that the nicotine of cigarettes that is passed to breast milk results in fussiness, nausea, and restlessness in babies especially if the mother smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day.
Dr. Khattab further explained that babies of smoking mothers are more vulnerable to respiratory symptoms and serious diseases as wheezing, coughing, and ear infection, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Passive smoking can trigger asthma attacks in babies.
“There is a claim that e-cigarettes and vapes are safer when it comes to kids,” the professor added, yet warned us that they are way more dangerous than cigarettes and hookah. They can cause more critical cases of pulmonary infections like chemical pneumonia because of the oils and flavors added to the e-cigarettes and vapes.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot or crib death, is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. A combination of physical and sleep environmental factors can make an infant more vulnerable to SIDS. Passive smoking is one of them.
Infants who pass away due to SIDS have higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs and higher levels of cotinine, a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure, than infants who die from other causes. If you’re a smoker, co-sleeping with your baby puts him at risk of SIDS.
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Sources used in this article:
- How Harmful Is Smoking While Breast-Feeding? – Healthline
- Breastfeeding and Smoking: Short-term Effects on Infant Feeding and Sleep – National Center for Biotechnology Information
- Tobacco and E-Cigarettes – Centers for Diseases and Control Prevention
- Smoking & Breastfeeding – La Leche League GB
- Sudden infant death syndrome – Mayo Clinic
- Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke – Center for Disease Control and Prevention