SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

What is SIDS?

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Maternal Smoking

Cigarette smoking and environmental smoke exposure collectively represent one of the most lethal health hazards for women and infants. Smoking has been shown to dramatically increase a woman’s risk of complications during pregnancy and birth and to decrease an infant’s chances of survival and good health.

Approximately 20 percent of all women in the United States smoke, according to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey and the 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.57 Studies reveal that nationally, 11.4 percent of pregnant women smoke and in some States, as many as 27 percent of pregnant women smoke. Also, many non-smoking pregnant women are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke from their partners, spouses or co-workers.58,59

A number of epidemiological studies have supported a relationship between smoking and the risk of SIDS.60,61 It is important to recognize and address the impact of smoking as a risk factor for not only SIDS but also other maternal complications and an infant’s risk of serious health problems.

Case-control, population-based studies from several countries indicate that cigarette smoking during pregnancy triples an infant’s risk for SIDS. While it is unknown exactly how smoking affects a baby in utero, abnormalities in the developing nervous system have been observed in animals exposed to cigarette smoke in utero.

Based on these epidemiological investigations, it is believed that sustained cigarette-smoke exposure further compromises already vulnerable infants. It may disrupt the arousal mechanism in infants and contribute to neonatal death by compromising an infant’s ability 1 to respond to life-threatening situations.62