Mothers’ smoking to blame for up to 90% of cot deaths

Smoking while pregnant to blame for up to 90% of cot deaths

NINE OUT OF ten cot death victims had mothers who smoked during pregnancy, a new study has revealed.

The report, from Bristol University’s institute of child life and health, based its findings on evidence from 21 international studies on smoking and sudden infant death syndrome.

Its authors, Peter Fleming and Dr Peter Blair, are calling for Ministers to rewrite advice for mothers-to-be on smoking and to ban expectant women from buying tobacco.

Dr Blair told the Daily Mail: ‘If smoking is a cause of SIDS, as the evidence suggests it is, we think that if all parents stopped smoking tomorrow more than 60% of SIDS deaths would be prevented.’

Around 3,000 babies a year die of cot death in Britain, and doctors believe that smoking may have an effect on brain chemicals in the foetus, or prevent the lungs from developing properly.

Government advice on smoking currently recommends only that mothers and fathers ‘cut smoking in pregnancy’. But earlier this year, a group of doctors called for a ban on parents smoking indoors when children are present.

‘The risk of unexpected infant death is greatly increased by both prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke,’ said Dr Blair.

‘We should aim to achieve a ‘smokefree zone’ around pregnant women and infants. Reduction of prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, by reducing smoking in pregnancy, and of postnatal exposure to tobacco, by not allowing smoking in the home, will substantially reduce the risk of SIDS.’

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