By Robert Preidt
Smoking by mothers has replaced infants sleeping on their stomachs as the greatest modifiable risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. When mothers smoke, the sleep arousal process of infants, which awakens them in response to a life-threatening situation, is altered, increasing the risk for SIDS.
Infants who are exposed to smoke had reduced sub-cortical activation to cortical arousal, lower rates of full cortical arousals from sleep, and higher rates of sub-cortical activations than infants of non-smoking mothers. Maternal smoking can impair the arousal pathways of seemingly normal babies, which may explain the increased risk for SIDS.
- Yet another reason to quit!