St. Clair Checkup

Kristen E.M. Peske, D.O.,

Women who smoke during pregnancy double the risk that their infants will die suddenly and unexpectedly, according to a recent article in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The researchers analyzed information on 20.7 million births and 19,000 Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) deaths from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The data revealed that SUID risk more than doubled when the mother smoked during pregnancy, in any trimester. SUID includes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in bed and other unknown causes.

“We have long known that smoking has ill effects on pregnancy,” says St. Clair Hospital’s Kristen E.M. Peske, D.O., a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh, P.C. “We knew there was a link between maternal smoking and SIDS. Now we know definitively that it’s more than a link. Smoking during pregnancy is a cause of SIDS. The more that a pregnant woman smokes, the greater the risk of sudden unexpected death for the infant.”

This is excellent information, Dr. Peske says, because maternal smoking is a modifiable risk factor: “Women have control, and pregnant women are motivated to quit smoking. In my practice, we see many women who want to quit. Some are able to, but smoking cessation is challenging. If pregnant smokers can at least reduce their smoking, it will make a difference. This study showed that the risk decreased when mothers quit or cut back.”

St. Clair Hospital offers smoking cessation classes for the community. Dr. Peske and her partners provide counseling about the risks of smoking during pregnancy. The information they provide to pregnant women will be updated to include the new information about smoking and SIDS. “Now they have more reason than ever to stop smoking, for their babies and for themselves,” she says.

To contact Dr. Peske, please call 724-941-1866.