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Protecting our babies from tobacco sleep

27 Nov, 2023

At Red Nose our third safe sleep recommendation is keep baby smoke free before and after birth. We know smoking is bad but research is continually increasing our understanding of why smoke-free is such a key element of reducing the risk to babies while they sleep.

Research shows that babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke before and after birth are at an increased risk of being born premature or small for their gestational age and, they are at an increased risk of sudden and unexpected death, including stillbirth and SIDS.

Babies and young children are especially vulnerable because their bodies are developing.

“The evidence is clear that babies of mothers who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to be born prematurely and be of low birth weight, says Red Nose Chief Midwife Jane Wiggill.

“Other effects on babies and children include repeated respiratory infections and conditions including croup, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Exposing children to cigarette smoke also increases the likelihood of childhood asthma.”

“All of these things increase your baby’s vulnerability and their risk of sudden unexpected death.”

And research has also found that babies who are exposed to smoke before and after birth do not arouse as easily as babies who were not exposed to smoke.

This is significant because it is when the baby sleeps that SIDS can occur.

Babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke before and after birth are at an increased risk of SIDS. To avoid exposing your baby to tobacco smoke, don’t let anyone smoke near your baby - not in the house, the car or anywhere else your baby spends time.

Encouraging members of your household and extended family to quit smoking will help reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death for your baby.

“We understand it can be hard to quit smoking, so make sure you ask for help,” Jane says.

“Speak to your GP, nurse or midwife, or contact Quitline for the right support.

If you do find yourself around someone who smokes, make sure they don’t touch your baby until after they have a shower and change their clothes.

“Smoke toxins stay on the skin and clothing, and are easily transferred to your baby, even if the person hasn’t smoked near your baby.”

Remember, it is often hard to quit smoking so ask for help. Call the Quitline on 137 848 or ask your doctor, midwife or child health nurse for information and advice about quitting.

Article supplied by Red Nose

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