Smoking can affect breastfeeding habits: Study

Toronto: Women, please take note. New mothers exposed to cigarette smoke in their homes may stop breastfeeding sooner as compared to those who are not exposed to second-hand smoke, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, found that exposure to household smokers had a substantial negative effect on breastfeeding practices.

“Our study showed that just being in a smoking household — whether it was the husband, mother or member of the extended family — reduced the time that a child was breast fed,” said lead author Marie Tarrant, professor at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus in Canada.

“In fact, the more smokers there were in the home, the shorter the breastfeeding duration,” Tarrant added.

For the study, the research team involved more than 1,200 women from four large hospitals in Hong Kong.

The researchers found that more than one-third of participants had partners or other household members who smoked. And fathers who smoked were significantly less likely to prefer breastfeeding when compared with non-smoking partners.

“Our study did show that smoking partners may affect the mother’s decision to stop breastfeeding and that paternal and household smoking exposure is strongly associated with a shorter breastfeeding duration,” Tarrant said.

According to the researchers, nicotine is transmitted in the breastmilk to the child and it may reduce the overall quantity of the breastmilk. There is also the concern regarding the environmental exposure of second-hand smoke on the child

“We know the effects of environmental tobacco smoke on young babies is very detrimental as babies who are around smoking are more like to get respiratory infections and other experience other respiratory problems,” Tarrant said.

“However, if a mother is breastfeeding, the benefits of her doing that still outweigh the negative effects of the smoking as long as she maintains good smoking hygiene and doesn’t expose the baby to tobacco smoke.”