Tobacco Smoking During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Linked to Infant Leukemia

By Dave S. Posted January 17, 2013

Risks From Smoking During Pregnancy
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Babies born to heavy tobacco cigarette smokers are 5 percent more likely to develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to a report released in November by Frontier Oncology.


Infants whose mothers smoked during breastfeeding were nearly 8 percent more likely to develop AML before their second birthday, according to the 8-year study.


AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that affects blood and bone marrow, according to


The increased risk for AML was found for women who smoked 20 tobacco cigarettes during their pregnancy as well as three months prior to conception and three months after birth.




Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and do not emit smoke.


Radiation and exposure to chemicals can also cause AML, which alters the DNA of developing bone marrow.


Although the children of tobacco smokers in the study were younger than 2, the onset of AML is typically much later in life.  The median age for victims of AML is 68 years, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


The Brazilian study, conducted by the National School of Public Health, included 675 children, 193 of whom developed AML during infancy or toddlerhood.


If you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding, you can protect your children against AML and other tobacco-related diseases if you give up smoking cigarettes and stay away from people who do.


E Cigarettes:  No Secondhand Smoke


The Brazil study was restricted to women who smoked.  But women who live with smokers also put their unborn children at risk, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


The CDC study found that both women who smoked during pregnancy and women exposed to secondhand smoke during their reproductive years increased their risk of stillbirths, fetal growth restriction and preterm delivery.


The Environmental Protection Agency says that anyone who smokes around children  increases the children’s risk of these health problems:


  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory infections among infants and children younger than 6.
  • Middle ear infection


About 11 percent of children younger than 6 are exposed to secondhand smoke, which contains 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer, according to the EPA.


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