Moms who smoke may end up with colicky babies
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Infants of mothers who smoke are twice as likely to have colic as children of mothers who do not smoke, researchers report.
However, the study found breast-feeding was slightly protective, although the infants of breast-feeding smokers were still at higher risk of colic than those of nonsmokers.
Colic is incessant crying--at least 3 hours a day for 3 days in one week--that has no known cause. Infant colic tends to peak during the first 6 weeks of life and taper off by the end of the second month.
The study results were surprising because past studies had suggested that colic was related to smoking only if the mother breast-fed, according to lead author, Dr. Sijmen A. Reijneveld of the Netherlands Organisation of Applied Scientific Research in Leiden.
``We focused on maternal smoking because a previous North American study showed maternal smoking and infantile colic to be associated only if the infant was breast-fed, whereas further evidence was conflicting,'' Reijneveld said. ``Our results clearly confirm the association of maternal smoking and colic, but also show that the effect of breast-feeding is protective.''
Reijneveld and colleagues interviewed the parents of more than 3,300 infants aged 1 to 6 months, and found that 4.7% of children had colic. The findings are reported in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Overall, mothers of 1-month-old infants who smoked less than 15 cigarettes a day were twice as likely to have a colicky baby as nonsmokers. If the mothers smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day, their newborn was nearly three times as likely to have colic.
However, breast-feeding was slightly protective. If a breast-feeding mom was also a smoker, her risk of having a colicky infant was only 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than a nonsmoker.
Breast-feeding seems to be protective, Reijneveld suggested. ``Maybe because of things like skin contact of the infant with the mother,'' he pointed out.
Reijneveld speculated that tobacco smoke irritating the child's lungs is probably to blame for the colic, and if this is true, a father who smokes around the child may be just as likely to have a child with colic.
However, other factors could also be responsible for the association, Reijneveld told Reuters Health. It is possible that smoking during--not after--pregnancy could be to blame. Or there is a ``possibility that a severely colicky infant causes the mother to start smoking,'' Reijneveld noted.
Whatever the reason, second-hand smoke is known to be harmful to infants for a number of reasons, including an increased risk of ear infections. Thus, Reijneveld suggests that new parents steer clear of cigarettes.
``Do not smoke in the presence of your child, and do not allow others to do so,'' he advised.