Exposure to cigarette smoke in pregnancy damages your baby’s blood pressure control, say experts. This could help explain why if you smoke in pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk of cot death, reports the BBC.
Smoke-exposed babies have abnormal surges in blood pressure, a Swedish team found. These abnormal surges make babies’ hearts pump harder and faster, and happen even when they’re sleeping. These abnormal responses also get worse through the babies’ first 12 months.
The study involved 36 newborn babies, with 17 of these having mums who smoked in pregnancy. It suggests damage to circulation may be a factor in cot death, or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The lead researcher, Dr Gary Cohen, said, “We have known for some time that there is a cardiovascular element to sudden infant death. It’s not just breathing, but blood pressure control and heart rate control. This is another piece of the jigsaw.”
“The hypothesis presented here is highly plausible and agrees with work from other research groups,” said Professor George Haycock, scientific adviser for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), “FSID’s top piece of advice remains, cut smoking in pregnancy – fathers too, and don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.”