Tobacco smoke contributes to crib deaths

  • Nation
  • Friday, 03 Jan 2003

PENANG: Babies whose mothers are exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy stand a higher risk of dying suddenly in their sleep, according to the National Clearing House for Tobacco Control (C-Tob), an organisation based at Universiti Sains Malaysia. 

Its co-ordinator Assoc Prof Dr Rahmat Awang said the cause had been linked to nicotine in smoke inhaled by the mothers. 

“When the babies cannot bring themselves to breathe normally in their sleep, they die from what is known as Sudden Infant Death (SID) syndrome or crib deaths. 

“An experiment by French doctor Dr Claude Gautier showed that nicotine may cause changes in a baby’s body which prevent the baby from breathing normally and snapping itself out of apnoea (cessation of breathing),” he said in an interview yesterday. 

Although there were no statistics available on such cases in Malaysia, SID afflicted one baby in every 2,000 per year in Europe and two in every 2,000 in North America, he said. 

He added that the syndrome was the leading cause of death in infants between one month and a year.  

“As carbon monoxide from second-hand smoke can cut down the unborn baby’s oxygen supply by 25%, this affects the baby’s growth,” he added. 

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