Smoking in pregnancy a big factor in baby sleep
In the first study across time into late childhood of the effects of prenatal drug exposure on sleep, prenatal drug exposure has been associated with greater sleep problems in children. In addition, nicotine has a unique effect, and early sleep problems predict later sleep problems, according to a study authored by Dr. Kristen Stone of Brown University, USA.
Researchers investigated reports across time of 139 mothers, looking into how their children slept between the ages of 18 months and 9 years. Of these children, 23 had no prenatal drug exposure, 55 were exposed to cocaine alone or in combination with other drugs, and 61 were exposed to drugs other than cocaine.
According to the results, children with prenatal drug exposure – nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, opiates, or some combination of these – experienced greater difficulty sleeping than unexposed children. Analyses revealed that prenatal nicotine exposure predicted difficulty sleeping above and beyond the other substances. Early sleep problems also predicted later sleep problems.
“Studying the effects of prenatal drug exposure on sleep may provide clues regarding how drugs affect the developing brain and may explain some of the effects of prenatal drug exposure on other outcomes, such as behavior and attention,” says Dr Stone. “For example, studies show that adolescents with prenatal nicotine exposure are more likely to start smoking earlier than their peers, but we don't know what other factors, such as sleep, might be involved in that relationship.”
Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking street drugs in pregnancy are linked to a range of other health problems in babies and can also cause miscarriage, preterm delivery and stillbirth. If you’re having difficulty quitting smoking, drinking or drug taking during pregnancy, speak to your midwife immediately.