Smoking and Breastfeeding – Your Baby Is In Danger

Health Risks Linked to Smoking and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be a pleasing experience for new moms and their babies. Breast milk will help protect the infant from various infectious diseases. If you’re among the women who successfully quit smoking while pregnant, it’s important to know that 75-80% start-up again after giving birth.

If you decide to start smoking again, be aware that toxic chemicals and nicotine from cigarettes are in your breast milk. Nicotine can cause increased heart rate, restlessness and agitation in your infant.

Let’s address health concerns about smoking and breastfeeding.

Less Milk = Early Weaning

Massachusetts General Hospital published an article stating that 25% of women smoke while pregnant and afterwards. Researchers found that mom’s who smoke while breast feeding have a lower supply of milk. Lower milk volume increases chances of early weaning.

In another study, researchers interviewed 500 mothers. After four months, only 43% of mothers who were smoking and breastfeeding continued to breastfeed vs. 88% of non-smokers who continued to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding

Smoking and BreastfeedingLa Leche League (LLL) suggests that early weaning does not suit the best interests of the child whose mother smokes. If a woman chooses to smoke, LLL encourages breastfeeding as known health risks of mothers smoking and formula feeding outweigh potential risks of mothers smoke and breastfeed.

Bottle fed babies experience more respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis, than breastfed babies, even when the mother smokes. Research has proven that breastfeeding reduces the infant’s risk of SIDS. The defense diminishes for breastfed babies of smoking moms. Bottle fed babies have no protection against SIDS.

Iodine Deficiency

Correct thyroid function of the baby is dependent on iodine in mother’s milk. Smoking reduces transport of iodine into breast milk. This also puts the infant at greater risk of developmental brain issues and mental retardation.

Women who are smoking and breastfeeding should consult their doctor about the necessity to take iodine and/or vitamin and mineral supplements.

Baby’s Sleep Patterns Disrupted

Studies show that the nicotine in mother’s breast milk can cause baby’s sleep time to be shortened.

It is also suggested that breast milk has a tobacco flavor, directly linking teenage smoking to mothers who smoked while breastfeeding.

Conclusion

There is an unknown (at present) component in maternal milk, which somewhat guards breastfed babies of moms who smoke against respiratory infections. However, second-hand smoke poses real health risks to the infant.

Mothers should try to cut-down on the number of cigarettes and smoke outside or in a different room from baby. The “best” time to smoke is immediately following a feeding so the nicotine levels have time to decrease before the next feeding.

Of course, the best possible health outcome for you and your child is to quit smoking.

Useful Resources:

Breast vs Bottle   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/751204.stm

Iodine Deficiency In Babies  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13034582

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