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Combined prenatal drinking and smoking represents greater SIDS risk

Combining smoking and drinking past the first trimester of pregnancy increases the risk of triggering sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) 12-fold, compared to first-trimester exposure only, according to a new study by National Institutes of Health.

The condition is described as sudden, unexplained death of an infant up to one year old.

Studies until now have established a link between its occurrence and prenatal alcohol exposure, with the same applying to smoking during pregnancy.

Thanks to the new study, concrete numbers now give a clearer picture.

The author, Amy J. Elliott, PhD, says that the study is the first to look at the risk of SIDS.

Exposure to both alcohol and tobacco adds up to a higher risk.

To reach these conclusions, results from about 12,000 pregnancies during 2007 and 2015 were analysed.

The women were from Cape Town, South Africa, and five US states, chosen for the high prevalence of alcohol abuse and SIDS.

During the study, SIDS risk increased four-fold in infants whose mothers smoked past the first trimester and five-fold in infants whose mothers continued drinking beyond the first trimester.

The results stress the importance of a healthy prenatal environment to see a healthy postnatal outcome, and also serve to remind how dangerous it is to smoke or drink during pregnancy.

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