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Smoking and Breastfeeding

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I had my high school experimentation with cigaretttes. (Sorry, mom). Fortunately I was never a smoker. I know it’s a habit that can be very hard to kick. But if you are smoking and breastfeeding, here’s yet another reason to quit… a new study has found that babies sleep less if their mother smokes. The nicotine in breast milk seems to shorten babies naps by one third.
The study was done by the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Here’s their website, and here’s the link to the press release.
Now some quotes from the press release:
“Infants spent less time sleeping overall and woke up from naps sooner when their mothers smoked prior to breastfeeding,” says lead author Julie A. Mennella, PhD, a psychobiologist at Monell.
The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, raise new questions regarding whether nicotine exposure through breast milk affects infant development….
Total sleep time over the 3-1/2 hours declined from an average of 84 minutes when mothers refrained from smoking to 53 minutes on the day they did smoke, a 37% reduction in infant sleep time. This was due to a shortening of the longest sleep bout, or nap, and to reductions in the amount of time spent in both active and quiet sleep.
The level of sleep disruption was directly related to the dose of nicotine infants received from their mothers’ milk, consistent with a role for nicotine in causing the sleep disruptions….
An earlier study from Mennella’s lab demonstrated that breast milk nicotine levels peak 30 – 60 minutes after smoking one or two cigarettes and clear by three hours after the smoking episode. Emphasizing the many benefits of breastfeeding on infant health and development, Mennella notes that lactating mothers who smoke occasionally can time their smoking episodes to minimize nicotine exposure to their child…

For more on this story go to The Washington Post.
And one final thought…if you can’t quit smoking, it’s still best to continue breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said smoking is not a contraindication to breastfeeding– translation, you can smoke and breastfeed, but you should quit. Here’s some information from Kellymom on smoking and breastfeeding.