Smoking and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective for SIDS by approximately 50% at all ages throughout infancy,21 and advice to breastfeed is an important SIDS risk-reduction message. A case-control study of the nicotine and cotinine (a metabolite of nicotine) levels in the body fluids and hair of babies who had died from SIDS found that the babies of mothers who reported having smoked during pregnancy had higher nicotine levels than the babies of non-smoking mothers. The authors then looked at the way the babies were fed and found that the cotinine and nicotine levels were not significantly higher in the breast fed babies of smoking mothers compared to those who did not smoke, suggesting that the transfer of nicotine and cotinine in breast milk was not a significant factor and that passive smoking was the major cause of the observed high levels.22

All mothers, including those who smoke, are encouraged to breastfeed their babies.

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Last modified: 9/10/16

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