Mom, Go Outside to Smoke

Smoking indoors around infants more common in houses with multiple kids

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Pregnant moms may be getting better about quitting smoking while they’re pregnant, but once the baby is born, many light up again.

A recent study looked at surveys from new moms all over the US to see how many babies were being exposed to secondhand smoke in the home.

The results showed that in homes with a smoking mom, the more siblings there were living in the home, the more likely that the new baby would be exposed to secondhand smoke.

"Never smoke indoors around babies or kids."

Summer Sherburne Hawkins, PhD, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College, led a study when she was at the Harvard School of Public Health on secondhand smoke exposure for babies.

“While pregnancy is often a time of positive behaviour change for many women, approximately half of women who quit smoking during pregnancy resume postpartum (after giving birth),” according to the authors.

The researchers used data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), which is a nationwide survey system that randomly asks mothers from all over the US questions about health and behavior before, during and after pregnancy.

For this study, 135,278 mothers from 28 states provided information between 2000 and 2003 about their children’s exposure levels to secondhand smoke.

The results of the study showed that 10 percent of the mothers said that their infant was in the same room as a smoker for one or more hours per day. The average time those infants were exposed to secondhand smoke was 3.3 hours per day.

A total of 25 percent of mothers were current smokers. In smoking households with an infant and one other child (sibling), infants were 25 percent more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke an hour or more per day.

In smoking households with an infant and at least two other siblings, infants were 59 percent more likely to be around secondhand smoke an hour or more per day.

Infants of white mothers had higher rates of secondhand smoke exposure compared to infants of Hispanic mothers, black mothers and those of other races. Mothers with at least some college education or who were 25 years of age or older were less likely to have infants exposed to secondhand smoke.

In households where the mother was a non-smoker, infants with any brothers or sisters were around 20 percent more likely to be exposed to one hour or more of secondhand smoke per day than infants with no siblings.

“We found that infants whose mother smoked postpartum and infants with siblings were at greater risk of secondhand smoke exposure. Among mothers reporting any infant smoke exposure, regardless of their smoking status, this translated to approximately 3 hours daily that infants were exposed to secondhand smoke,” the authors concluded.

The authors suggested parents make a “no-smoking indoors” policy in homes with infants and children.

This study was published in April in Child: Care, Health and Development.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided funding for this study. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 1, 2013
Last Updated:
April 3, 2013