Quit For Your Baby

An Australian study further confirms the hazards of cigarette smoke in the home, citing an 80 percent decrease in SIDS risk if a baby's family quits smoking.

Pregnant woman breaking cigarette

Ditching the smoking habit is hard. But can you think of any other reason that is as important as this one? Researchers in Australia have discovered that if you quit smoking while pregnant or after your baby is born, your baby's risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) decreases by an astonishing 80 percent.

Nicotine leads to brain cell death

The research team attributes these harrowing statistics to the fact that cigarette smoke, particularly the neurotoxin nicotine, kills brain cells -- specifically the brain stem which regulates breathing, heart rate, sleep and the ability to wake up.

While SIDS is often a conclusion medical professionals reach when the cause of death isn't evident, it's thought that a baby's ability to breathe freely and self-rouse are crucial when it comes to avoiding it. This reasoning was the impetus behind the Back to Sleep campaign that was started in 1994 and has resulted in a 50 percent decrease in reported SIDS deaths.

Smoking cessation is good for you

If you smoke, quit before you conceive. If you can't quit cold turkey, cut down a little each day. Even if it takes you a few months to stop completely, it's so much better for you and your baby than if you'd smoked full time for your entire pregnancy.

I was a part-time (casual) smoker before I found out I was pregnant with my first baby many moons ago. I took a few weeks to gradually wean myself off the habit. Happily, my morning sickness seemed to flare up when I lit up so it was easier on me than if it hadn't.

Other moms may not find quitting to come so easily, and it can be even harder to convince a woman's partner as well. But if you could reduce your baby's chance of passing away, you'd do everything in your power to do so, wouldn't you? Ask your care provider for help if you can't quit on your own. It may make a huge difference in your baby's life.

More on baby's health

Why are well-baby checkups important?
The new crib safety standards
Safe active play with your baby

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