Pregnancy: Exposure to nicotine and risk of unexpected infant death

nicotine products during pregnancy:

These Swedish pediatricians find that infants whose mothers have consumed snus during pregnancy run a risk multiplied by 3 of sudden infant death syndrome but note, with a glimmer of hope, that this risk is considerably reduced when the mother stops consumption before the first prenatal visit. Thus, all types of nicotine-based products should be avoided during pregnancy and teams of women's health professionals still have an important role to play in prevention and education.

sudden infant death syndrome:

“The incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome remains very low, even with nicotine use during pregnancy," notes lead author Dr Anna Gunnerbeck, pediatrician at Astrid Lindgren Hospital and researcher at Karolinska Institutet, "however we observe a significant impact on this risk from maternal exposure with nicotine”.

The study, which analyzed data from 2 million babies born in Sweden between 1999 and 2019, reveals that:

  • only 2 out of 10,000 babies experience sudden infant death syndrome, either for no apparent reason and during sleep;
  • just over 1% of mothers took snus and 7% smoked cigarettes;
  • consumption of snus during pregnancy is associated with a 70% increased risk of infant death in the first year from all causes,
  • a 3-fold increase in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome;
  • the risks associated with maternal consumption of snus are equivalent to those of moderate smoking, i.e. 1 to 9 cigarettes per day;
  • maternal smoking equivalent to more than 10 cigarettes per day is associated with an even higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome…

Electronic cigarettes:

All nicotine-based products should be avoided This is the conclusion of the authors who warn young women of childbearing age against all nicotine-containing products.

In Sweden, the consumption of snus among young women of childbearing age is increasing. However, this finding applies more broadly to all young women around the world who use e-cigarettes.

“Nicotine is a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, so we conclude that all types of nicotine products should be avoided during pregnancy.”