London - Mothers who vape or wear nicotine patches during pregnancy increase their baby’s risk of cot death, a study suggests.
Cot death, or sudden infant death syndrome, is the unexpected death of an apparently healthy child under the age of 12 months, typically during sleep.
Official guidance warns pregnant women not to smoke cigarettes because it can damage their baby. Those who feel they are unable to stop completely are advised to use nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or tablets.
But the latest research, published in the Journal of Physiology, found that nicotine in any form may increase the risk of sudden infant death.
In a study on rats, the researchers found that exposure to either cigarette smoke or e-cigarettes could impair a baby’s "gasp reflex" – which automatically restarts breathing after a lack of oxygen. Cot death has long been thought to be linked to a failure to gasp.