See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

Nicotine in Breast Milk Affects Infants' Sleep Patterns

Infant sleep time is significantly shorter on days when their moms are smoking cigarettes

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The breast milk of lactating smokers contains significant amounts of nicotine that has short-term effects on their infants' sleep/wake patterns, according to a report published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

Julie A. Mennella, Ph.D., of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 15 mother-infant dyads on two separate days one week apart. On the first day, the mothers were allowed to smoke away from their infants, and on the second day, the mothers refrained from smoking. On both days, the researchers measured the nicotine content of breast milk to assess the delivered dose and monitored the infants' sleep and activity patterns.

The researchers observed no difference in feeding patterns during the two days. But they found that the infants spent less time sleeping during the immediate hours after their mothers smoked than they did on the non-smoking day (an average of 53.4 minutes versus 84.5 minutes). They also found that higher doses of nicotine in breast milk were associated with less time spent in active sleep.

"More research on the benefits and consequences of breast-feeding from mothers who smoke, as well as the efficacy of smoking cessation treatments for lactating women, is needed to develop evidence-based strategies that have long-term consequences for both infant and maternal health," the authors conclude.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing