Cigarette smoking remains to be a big no-no for pregnant women. A new study reveals that expectant mothers smoking even one cigarette a day can double the risk of babies suffering from Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.

The research, which is a collaboration between Seattle Children's Research Institute and Microsoft data, looks into how smoking before and during pregnancy can increase the risk of infants to lose their life to SUID. Coauthor Juan Lavista explains that they use Microsoft Artificial Intelligence, which enable them to assess their data in a way that has never been done before: find out the effect that each additional cigarette has on SUID.

Impact Of Smoking On SUID Risk

The scientific team investigates the smoking habits of mothers for all U.S. live births from 2007 to 2011 via computational modeling tools. There are about 20 million births included in the study, of which more than 19,000 deaths are associated with SUID. The cause of such deaths are rooted from SIDS, which is a condition that occurs from an unknown cause, or unexpected suffocation and choking in bed.

Aside from the relationship of smoking and SUID risk, the researchers also look into how the results may vary if women change their ways from before and during pregnancy. They discover that the risk of SUID decreases by 12 percent in mothers who quit smoking by the third trimester compared to those who did not give up smoking at all. Total cessation leads up to a 23 percent dip in SUID risk.

If planning to have a baby, the best time to quit is now. The researchers found that mothers who quit in the first trimester, but are still smoking three months before poses a higher risk of SUID compared to those who don't smoke at all.

Aside from timing, quantity of cigarettes consumed by women also says a lot about SUID risk. The research team says that those who smoke one to 20 cigarettes per day on the average have an increased SUID risk of about 0.07 for each additional cigarette smoked.

The results show that SUID numbers can drop by 22 percent if only there is zero women smoking during pregnancy. Such data mean that 800 of the estimated 3,700 deaths that occur in the United States annually due to SUID can be avoided.

"With this information, doctors can better counsel pregnant women about their smoking habits, knowing that the number of cigarettes smoked daily during pregnancy significantly impacts the risk for SUID," says lead author Dr. Tatiana Anderson.

Raising Awareness Is Key To SUID Prevention

Anderson points to the successful public health endeavors promoting education about infant sleep position and its 50 percent death reduction rate. She hopes that similar campaigns to raise awareness about SUID risk could help to reduce tragic deaths among infants.

The one big message of the study results is that women should understand that quitting smoking before and during pregnancy is so far the best way to reduce SUID risk. For those who cannot quit totally, they should remember that every single cigarette they mightily let go will decrease the chance of their child dying from SUID.

SUID Rates Over The Years

Approximately 3,500 infants die each year due to SUID. In a March 2018 study, researchers investigate on the statistics of SUID across U.S. states from 1990 to 2015. The results show that while there is a significant drop in SUID rates, highly due to an educational campaign called Back to Sleep, data after 1999 show very little change and numbers of deaths widely vary from state to state.

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