Tag Archives: sudden infant death syndrome

Progress Has Been Made in Cutting Nicotine Risks, but Exposure Remains Problem for Nonsmokers

Nearly half of America’s non smokers are sucking in fumes from tobacco products.

And that’s the good news!

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that 46 percent of nonsmokers had signs of nicotine in their bodies during blood tests conducted between 1999 and 2004.

That is down significantly from 84 percent when similar tests were conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But CDC researchers emphasize that this is no reason for celebration – not with statistics showing that exposure to secondhand smoke increases nonsmoking adults’ risk of lung cancer by at least 20 percent and their odds of heart disease by at least 25 percent.

“It’s still too high,” research Cynthia Marano told The Associated Press. “There is no safe level of exposure.”

Moreover, there was little change regarding the exposure of children ages 4 to 11 to secondhand smoke. That percentage stands at 60 percent, and CDC officials note this greatly increases children’s chances of respiratory illnesses and ear problems. In babies, the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome also increases.

Officials attributed the overall decline in the exposure rate of nonsmokers to the growing number of laws banning smoking workplaces, bars, restaurants and other public settings.

The CDC study’s findings justify the public indoor smoking legislation that will go into effect in September in Pennsylvania, virtually nullifying the argument that these bans usurp proprietors’ and individuals’ rights. Indoor smoking creates a public health issue for others and contributes to rising health care and insurance costs for everyone.

It’s good to see at least some progress being made, but to paraphrase that old cigarette commercial, “we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

Source: The Patriot News

Smoking and SIDS: The Connection Explained

Like we need one more reason not to smoke, especially during pregnancy.

For the men in the house who create second-hand smoke read about this study.

New science is telling us that the increased risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) among people exposed to nicotine is very real. And very explainable.

Sleep Review magazine is reporting a fascinating study that just came out, detailing why an infant’s ability to respond to oxygen deprivation after birth is dramatically compromised by exposure to nicotine in the womb–even when that exposure is light to moderate.

Picture a baby lying face down in bed. A normal, healthy baby would sense it’s being deprived of vital oxygen, and thus move its head. This is similar to the “flight or flight” response we get when we’re in a dire situation and have to move fast to survive (our body moves without us really thinking about it).

But when a baby has been exposed to the chemical nicotine in the womb, apparently this instinctual arousal mechanism doesn’t work so well. So the baby isn’t quick enough to respond and save his life.SIDS is rare, but it’s one of the most common causes of death in babies between 1 and 12 months of age. Most babies who die of SIDS are between the ages of 2 and 4 months. It can be devastating for a family–what seems like a totally healthy baby suddenly dies during sleep.

We don’t know what causes SIDS, but clearly there are risk factors for it, and smoking is one of them (no, not the baby smoking, but the mother and anyone else in the vicinity). Current studies are looking at possibly a problem in the brain that controls breathing during the first few months of life. But this new study plainly shows how nicotine can kill a much-needed survival mechanism in the early stages of life.

Baby in a CribWhen a baby is born, it’s exposed to low oxygen, which signals the adrenal glands to release chemicals called catecholamines. These catecholamines contain the famous fight or flight hormone adrenaline that tell the baby’s lungs to reabsorb fluid, and to take its first breath. The heart also begins to beat more efficiently. This response mechanism remains in place for a few months after birth (so it’s the adrenal glands that act as the baby’s oxygen sensor).

But under the influence of nicotine, it appears this mechanism becomes dysfunctional. Granted, a baby would normally lose this mechanism in time as the central nervous systems takes over the controls of this critical response, but unfortunately when a baby loses this ability too early in the game of life, the door to SIDS opens.

Yet another reason to blow out the smoke. I know it’s no easy task. But neither is grieving for a lost child.

Source: Dr. Michael J. Breus

This article is cross-posted at Dr. Breus’s Blog, The Insomnia Blog.

Unlocking the Secrets of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Exclusive: A major new report seen by the IoS has revealed that smoking holds the key to a mystery that has baffled doctors and brought heartache to thousands.

Nine out of 10 mothers whose babies suffered cot death smoked during pregnancy, according to a scientific study to be published this week.

The study, thought to be one of the most authoritative to date on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), says women who smoke during pregnancy are four times more likely than non-smokers to see their child fall victim to cot death.

The comprehensive report will make a strong case for the Government to increase the scope of anti-smoking legislation. It even suggests a possible move to try to ban pregnant women from getting tobacco altogether.

Baby in CribThe study, produced by Bristol University’s Institute of Child Life and Health, is based on analysis of the evidence of 21 international studies on smoking and cot death.

The report, co-authored by Peter Fleming, professor of infant health and developmental physiology, and Dr Peter Blair, senior research fellow, will be published this week in the medical journal Early Human Development.

The report urges the Government “to emphasise the adverse effects of tobacco smoke exposure to infants and among pregnant women”. It also warns that this year’s ban on smoking in public places must not result in an increased exposure of infants or pregnant woman at home – smoking in their presence should be seen as being “anti-social, potentially dangerous, and unacceptable”.

The study points out that many mothers and mothers-to-be have not heeded warnings about smoking and may need to have their access to tobacco restricted. “Given the power that tobacco addiction holds over its victims, there is grave concern as to whether it will be a successfully modifiable risk factor without fundamental changes in tobacco availability to vulnerable individuals,” it states.

Scientists are working to the theory that exposure to smoke during the pregnancy or just after birth has an effect on brain chemicals in the foetus or in infants, increasing the risk of SIDS.

The Government is considering whether it should change its advice on smoking. It recommends that pregnant women should not drink alcohol at all, but simply recommends that mothers and fathers “cut smoking in pregnancy”.

These findings will add weight to calls from doctors earlier this year for a ban on parents smoking indoors where children are present. Professor Robert West, of University College London, the Government’s most senior smoking adviser, said: “We can apply powerful social pressure on parents not to smoke in the house.”

Speaking about the new report, Dr Blair said: “If smoking is a cause of SIDS, and the evidence suggests it is, we think that if all parents stopped smoking tomorrow more than 60 per cent of SIDS deaths would be prevented.”

According to the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID), at least 300 babies in the UK each year die suddenly and unexpectedly, mostly between the ages of one month and four months. SIDS is the biggest killer of babies over a month old, claiming more deaths than traffic accidents, leukaemia and meningitis put together.

The issue has prompted a number of high-profile criminal convictions against mothers such as Angela Cannings and Sally Clark. Mrs Cannings suffered the deaths of three babies who died in their cribs. Mrs Clark had two infants who were taken by SIDS. Both women were jailed but later had their convictions overturned and were released in 2003. Mrs Cannings, whose family smoked, was too upset by personal matters to comment yesterday on the findings of this latest study. Mrs Clark, a non-smoker, died last March.

Although scientists are still trying to understand precisely why babies die so young, medical research is providing effective steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of it happening.

Anti-smoking messages have provided some benefits: in the past 15 years, researchers found that the proportion of smokers among all pregnant mothers in the UK has fallen from 30 to 20 per cent.

Nevertheless, according to another study, in 1984 57 percent of babies who died from SIDS had mothers who smoked during pregnancy. This had increased to 86 per cent by 2003. It is thought that the huge rise in the proportion of SIDS mothers who smoke is at least to some degree a result of the Back to Sleep campaign which was launched in 1991, and which appears to have had a dramatic effect in reducing cot death.

The key message of this campaign was that parents should put their baby on its back to sleep. Since then, the number of SIDS deaths has fallen by three-quarters. The proportion of SIDS babies found lying face down has fallen from 89 per cent to 24 per cent.

The campaign has also changed the social profile of parents whose infants have died from SIDS. Before the Back to Sleep campaign, fewer than half were from lower socio-economic classes, considered to be “deprived”. Now, this proportion has risen to 74 per cent.

The researchers now believe that laying babies face down has been largely removed as the main reason for SIDS. The remaining primary dangers are exposure to tobacco smoke and other factors possibly linked to deprivation.

“The risk of unexpected infant death is greatly increased by both prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke,” said Dr Blair. “We should aim to achieve a ‘smoke-free zone’ around pregnant women and infants.

“Reduction of prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, by reducing smoking in pregnancy, and of postnatal exposure to tobacco, by not allowing smoking in the home, will substantially reduce the risk of SIDS.”

There are a number of theories to explain how smoking could affect the baby. Babies exposed to tobacco could have breathing problems. Lung development in the growing foetus could be hindered. Another theory is that levels of brain chemicals are affected by smoke exposure.

“Exposure to tobacco smoke, either prenatally or postnatally, will lead to a complex range of effects upon normal physiological and anatomical development in foetal and postnatal life, together with an increased incidence of acute viral infection that places infants at greatly increased risk of SIDS,” says the Bristol University study.

Deborah Arnott, the director of ASH, the anti-smoking charity, said that this report should provoke a strong government campaign to highlight the risks of women smoking while pregnant, and of parents smoking in the home.

“Because of other advice on avoiding cot death, smoking has become an increasingly important trigger and we are very concerned that there is a lack of understanding of how important it is,” she said.

A YouGov poll commissioned for ASH at the end of August showed only 17 per cent of respondents thought second-hand smoke had a big impact on cot-death risk, and 26 per cent that it had “some impact”. But Ms Arnott does not believe the public ban will necessarily increase smoking at home. She added: “About 85 per cent of smoke is invisible and people think it isn’t having an impact if they smoke in a room where the baby isn’t, but it moves around the house. Our advice is, if you have a baby and cannot give up, don’t smoke in the home or car and use nicotine gum or patches for cravings. Being realistic, banning smoking in the home isn’t something we can do.”

Catherine Parker-Littler, a midwife and founder of midwivesonline.com, said that her confidential service has received emails from smokers who lost infants to cot death. “In our ‘Ask a Midwife’ service, we have definitely had emails from a small number of parents who smoke about their experience in terms of a cot death,” she said. “Some are about feelings of guilt.”

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said: “This is an interesting report which we will study carefully and consider whether we need to change our advice. At the moment, our advice on how best to reduce the chances of cot death is based on the best available scientific evidence. We advise parents to cut out smoking in pregnancy and not to share a bed with your baby if you are a smoker.”

Falsely accused: Bereaved – and then tried for murder

The court cases of Angela Cannings and Sally Clark became bywords for miscarriages of justice after both were wrongly convicted of murdering their children.

Ms Cannings, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, was jailed for life in April 2002 after she was found guilty of smothering her two sons, seven-week old Jason in 1991 and 18-week-old Matthew in 1999.

Ms Cannings, 43, maintained her babies died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and was eventually freed in 2003. Her marriage has since broken down and she has left the family home. During her appeal, Professor Robert Carpenter, a medical statistics expert, said the babies had been at a “substantially increased risk” of cot deaths because they may have been exposed to cigarette smoke.

“The Cannings family smoked and the children slept prone,” he told the Court of Appeal in 2003.

But the link between smoking and cot death is not a certainty, as the case of Sally Clark shows.

Mrs Clark, who died in March at the age of 42, was jailed for life in 1999 for murdering her two sons, eight-week old Harry and 11-week-old Christopher. Her conviction was finally overturned in 2003.

The Clarks were affluent non-smokers, factors that led Professor Sir Roy Meadow, a consultant pediatrician and expert witness in both trials, to wrongly conclude that the chances of two cot deaths in such a family was “one in 73 million”.

Mrs Clark was released after a second appeal found her children had died of natural causes. She never recovered from her ordeal.

Source: Roger Dobson, Senay Boztas, and Ian Griggs, The Independent

Seven Reasons to Stop Smoking

Do you smoke?

Thinking of quitting?

Discovery Health lists seven reasons why you should quit smoking right now.

Don’t wait another minute, read this list now, and really think about these seven reasons.

If not just for yourself, think of how you are effecting your loved ones.

They might just persuade you ditch the smokes before it’s too late…

seven.jpg1. You smell pretty bad
Bad breath and body odor, sallow skin, smelly clothes, yellow teeth – what’s not to love? Maybe it is time stub it out.

2. Food doesn’t taste as good
Smoking can permanently harm your sense of smell, which in turns affects your tasting experience. This can be reversible, but you do run the risk of permanent damage to this sensory experience.

3. More time in hospital
The carcinogens released when you light up gives you a better chance to develop cancer of the mouth, lung and throat, and your basic flu easily turns into bronchitis or pneumonia. You are more likely to spend some quality time with healthcare professionals than a non-smoker.

4. Your body ages faster
Want to look nine years older than you actually are? Then have a cigarette, don’t exercise too much and just for good measure add a bit of weight to your frame. The good news is that it is reversible. If you stop smoking, do some mild exercise and lose the weight, you can look and also feel younger than your actual age.

5. Smoking harms your children
Smoking during pregnancy can lower your child’s IQ and lead to low birth weight, still births, miscarriages, birth defects such as cleft lip and sudden infant death syndrome (cot death). Cigarette smoke contains an estimated 4000 chemicals, with nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide thought to be the most dangerous to the fetus.

6. You have to exercise harder
Your lungs aren’t operating at full volume due to the tar and increased levels of carbon monoxide in your lungs. This poisonous gas is quickly absorbed into the blood, reducing its capacity to carry oxygen. As a result, the smoker has to exert more physical effort to attain a given task than does a non-smoker. The heart in particular must work harder, particularly during rigorous exercise. Increased levels of carbon monoxide in the blood can impair vision, perception of time, and co-ordination.

7. You can pass risks onto your kids
Like father like son… Most children of smokers will take up the habit as well or suffer the consequences of second-hand smoke.

Smoking Link to Cot Death Underestimated by Majority 0f Parents

Seventy per cent of parents are not aware of the extent of the cot death risk posed by smoking in the home.

A poll(1), conducted for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) during the first two weeks of the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, found that 70 percent of parents of young children (aged 0-3) either significantly underestimated or did not know how much more likely cot death was if a baby is exposed to tobacco smoke for one hour every day.

A baby who regularly spends one hour a day in a smoky environment is twice as likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – or cot death – as a baby who lives in a smoke-free home.(2)

Forty-seven per cent of parents polled, however, thought that there was either no risk or a much lower risk than is in fact the case, while 23 percent couldn’t estimate the risk from the options given.

The poll also found that a greater proportion of families on lower incomes than higher incomes (76 percent as opposed to 56 percent) were unaware of the extent of the risk. A greater proportion of parents in the North of England (75 percent) and the Midlands (74 percent) than parents in the South (65 percent) and in London (60 percent) were unaware of the extent of the risk.

FSID-funded cot death researcher Professor Peter Fleming of Bristol University says:

“We all know about the danger that secondhand smoke poses to the public and yet we expose children to cigarette smoke in the home. Parents need to be aware of the threat that smoke poses to their children and protect them by enforcing their own smoke-free zones at home.”

Joyce Epstein, FSID’s director, says: “Even if parents do smoke, they can have a really positive effect on reducing the risk of cot death by making their home a smoke-free zone and always going outside to smoke. And smokers should never share a bed with their baby, even if they don’t smoke in bed.”

Nearly every day in the UK a family suffers the tragedy of a cot death. It remains the leading cause of death for babies over one month old, but about 30 per cent of these deaths could be avoided if parents didn’t smoke around their children. As the smoking ban comes into force, there is the risk that people will smoke more at home, exposing more infants to secondhand cigarette smoke and increasing the risk of cot death.

Photo of Child in CribSmoking in pregnancy is also dangerous. A woman who smokes 1-9 cigarettes a day during pregnancy is more than 4 times as likely to have a baby die as a cot death than a woman who didn’t smoke at all during pregnancy.

Women who did smoke when they were pregnant should try not to expose their babies to smoke after birth as this can help reduce the risk of cot death.

(1) The research was conducted via a face-to-face omnibus from 28 June-13 July 2007 by Ipsos MORI’s Global Omnibus Services division. A nationally representative sample of 449 parents of children aged 0-3 in Great Britain were interviewed (with the data subsequently weighted to the known profile of this population). 37% of households had one or more smoker. 47% of respondents underestimated the cot death risk if a baby spent one hour every day in a room where people smoked, including 6% who thought there would be no effect on the chances of cot death, 17% who thought the chances would increase by one-tenth, and 24% who thought the chances would increase by half. 23% didn’t know how the chances would be affected. 30% accurately stated that the chance of a cot death would double.

(2) The UK’s largest ever cot death study (Fleming, P et al (2000), Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy – the CESDI/SUDI Studies, The Stationery Office, London) found that the more hours babies were exposed to tobacco smoke each day the greater the risk of cot death. Babies who were exposed to 1-2 hours of smoke a day, were 2.43 times more likely to die than those who had no exposure to tobacco smoke. The risk was 3.84 times greater if the baby was exposed for 3-5 hours a day, rising to 5.89 times the risk for 6-8 hours of daily exposure and to 8.3 times the risk after 8 hours or more of regular tobacco smoke exposure. The risk of death also rose with the number of smokers in the household. A family with one smoker had nearly 5 times the risk of a cot death of a non-smoking household, while there was 11 times the risk if two people smoked and 16 times the risk if three or more people smoked.

About FSID

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths is the UK’s leading baby charity working to prevent sudden infant deaths and promote infant health.

FSID funds research (nearly £10 million to date); supports bereaved families; promotes baby care advice; and works to improve investigations when a baby dies.

The UK’s cot death rate has fallen by 75% since the campaign to reduce the risk of cot death was launched in 1991, and we estimate that 25,000 babies’ lives have been saved. Cot death is still the biggest killer of babies over one month old in the UK today, claiming around 300 infants’ lives every year – that’s more than road traffic accidents, leukemia, and meningitis put together.

http://www.sids.org.uk
(SIDS)

Source: Medical News Today