Vaping and nicotine patches linked to cot death
Pregnant women who use e-cigarettes or nicotine patches to avoid smoking may increase the risk of their newborns becoming cot-death victims.
Any kind of nicotine exposure during pregnancy, whether from smoking, vaping, or skin patches, heightens the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Sids), early research suggests.
Scientists found nicotine in the womb can affect an unborn baby's central nervous system and cardiorespiratory responses to stressful environments.
This could leave infants susceptible to asphyxia, especially those lacking the brain chemical serotonin.
Stella Lee, one of the researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine in the US, said: "Sudden infant death syndrome is such a distressing tragedy for families. We still don't fully understand the causes, but this research is important because it helps mothers reduce the risk."
The findings, published in the 'Journal of Physiology', showed nicotine exposure can trigger the failure of autoresuscitation - a key safety mechanism that protects an infant from oxygen deprivation. Babies who cannot autoresuscitate are unable to recover from environmental stresses that cause a temporary loss of oxygen, such as getting tangled in bedding or a breathing obstruction.
The research involved exposing unborn and new born rats to nicotine through maternal blood or milk and then testing their response to low oxygen.
In recent years, patches and e-cigarettes have been prescribed to women who wish to quit smoking while pregnant.
Most cot deaths occur during the first six months of life and low birth weight and prematurely born infants are at greatest risk.
Sids is slightly more common in boys than girls. Cot death usually strikes when a baby is asleep.