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Smoking one cigarette a day during pregnancy can double risk of baby's sudden death

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/11/2019 Sonja Haller

a woman sitting on a chair © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. One cigarette. 

Researchers analyzed more than 20 million births, including over 19,000 unexpected baby deaths and found that smoking just one cigarette a day during pregnancy can double the chance of sudden, unexpected death for infants. 

"In addition, if you're a smoker it's important to quit well before you get pregnant," said lead study author Tatiana Anderson, a neuroscientist at the Seattle Children's Research Institute, in a video about the study. "We found that mothers who smoked in the three months before pregnancy and quit in the first trimester still had a nearly 50 percent greater chance of SUID (sudden unexpected Infant death) compared to non-smokers."

The findings of the study were published Monday in the journal Pediatrics

SUID cases include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, strangulation and unknown causes of death in infants under the age of 1. About 3,500 infants die each year from SUID.

If women didn't smoke during pregnancy, researchers said the rate of SIDS, could be cut by 22 percent, preventing up to 800 deaths a year.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer at the March of Dimes, cautioned against thinking that nicotine delivery devices are safer.

"Nicotine has also been linked with an important part of the development of the brainstem in the infant," Gupta told HealthDay. "Nicotine is in the vaping device, so all the impacts we are talking about are still harmful when nicotine is delivered, regardless of the device. Nicotine and babies do not match."

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    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Smoking one cigarette a day during pregnancy can double risk of baby's sudden death

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