Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, determined that nicotine content of breast milk adversely affects infant sleep patterns, according to the September edition of Pediatrics.

A group of 15 mother-infant pairings were tested on 2 days separated by 1 week. The babies’ sleep quality was measured with a leg-mounted actigraph, while milk intake was determined by calculating the weight differential before and after feedings. Nicotine content of the milk was measured to determine the dose level during breastfeeding.

Infants spent significantly less time sleeping following the time period when their mothers smoked (53.4 minutes) versus when the mothers did not (84.5 minutes).

The study concluded that an acute episode of smoking by lactating mothers altered infants’ sleep/wake patterning. The researchers suggested that concern over taste of milk and poor sleep hygiene could motivate lactating mothers to abstain from smoking and to breastfeed longer.

To view the full abstract, click here.