Drinking, smoking heightens death risk

Woman posing with several beer glasses

CAPE TOWN — A study has found that the combined effects of drinking and smoking heightens the risk for stillbirth and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Eyewitness News

The findings relate to the Safe Passage Study — probing the effects of smoking and drinking during pregnancy.

The international study tracked smoking and drinking behaviours of twelve thousand South African — and American expecting mothers between 2007 and 2015 and compared the results with their pregnancy outcomes.

About 7 000 pregnant women from the suburbs of Bishop Lavis and Belhar in Cape Town and five thousand from communities in North and South Dakota in the United States were monitored.

Researchers found alcohol consumption — combined with smoking during pregnancy — poses a three times higher risk for stillbirth, compared to women who abstained from these behaviours.

Columbia University’s Professor William Fifer says smoking may also lead to placental insufficiency — a pregnancy complication where the placenta is unable to deliver an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen to the foetus and can’t fully support the developing baby.