October has been designated as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) encourages residents to understand the relationship between SIDS and secondhand smoke. According to Katie Bentz, director of the SIDS program for the NDDoH, SIDS is the leading cause of death in the nation and in North Dakota for infants between 1 month and 1 year. Every year about 2,000 infants in the United States die from SIDS.
“While the direct cause of SIDS is unknown, we do know that breathing secondhand smoke or having a mother who smoked during pregnancy are risk factors for causing SIDS,” said Bentz. “Other ways to reduce the risk of SIDS are having your baby sleep on his or her back, never letting anyone smoke around your baby, and offering a pacifier at all sleep times once breastfeeding is well established.”
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and particles that come from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe, along with the smoke breathed out by smokers. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69 that can cause cancer.
The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, reports the following facts:
- Babies who breathe secondhand smoke after they are born are more likely to die of SIDS
- Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have their babies die of SIDS
- Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy can lead to a low birth-weight baby and can reduce a baby’s lung function
- During pregnancy, many of the compounds in secondhand smoke change the way a baby’s brain develops
- Babies who breathe secondhand smoke have weaker lungs; their breathing problems can continue as they grow older and even when they become adults
According to Kara Hickel, health promotion coordinator for the North Dakota Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, there is help available for those who would like to quit smoking.
“NDQuits is a free service for North Dakotans to help them quit smoking and tobacco use,” said Hickel. “NDQuits offers advice and encouragement from quit coaches and free nicotine replacement medications, like nicotine patches, gum and lozenges for those who qualify. Quitting smoking and protecting your baby from secondhand smoke are two of the most important things you can do to give your baby the healthiest start possible.”
If you would like help quitting smoking or tobacco use, contact NDQuits by calling 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) or logging on to www.ndhealth.gov/ndquits.
For more information about SIDS, log on to www.ndhealth.gov/SIDS or call Katie Bentz at 701.328.4538.