When faced with quitting smoking, many mothers turn to alternative forms of nicotine like snuff. Snuff is not smoked; rather it sits in the mouth, slowly delivering nicotine to stop the cravings. Recent research reveals using snuff during pregnancy may be worse than smoking. Children born to mothers who chose snuff over smoking were more likely to suffer difficulty breathing than those born to mothers who continued smoking. 

Information was gathered from more than 600,000 birth records in Sweden. The birth records were collected over the 7-year-span between 1999 and 2006. According to the birth records, children born to mothers who did not use tobacco products suffered apnea in about two out of 1,000 births. If the mother chose to smoke during pregnancy, that number climbed by half. If the mother used snuff during pregnancy, the risk of apnea increased two-fold. 

When sleep apnea is diagnosed, it can be treated and infants can be watched for developmental delays, but bot all cases are diagnosed. If the condition goes untreated, children can suffer learning delays and behavior problems. Children with sleep apnea may also suffer fatigue during the day. These children may fall asleep more in class, thus they are punished more and the end result can be life altering. 

Children who suffer from sleep apnea can recover with treatment, but they may be at increased risk for breathing disorders throughout life. If children suffer breathing problems, they are more likely to suffer infections and other illness. The tole of using snuff during pregnancy lasts a lifetime, not just the duration of the pregnancy or infant years. 

Snuff differs from cigarettes and other forms of smoked tobacco because it is not lit or smoked, chemicals are not added and it contains more nicotine than smoked tobacco products. Snuff has been considered an alternative to smoking when a mother simply cannot stop during pregnancy. Now, doctors may have to look for another viable option. 

Source: Anna Gunnerbeck, Anna-Karin Wikstrom, Anna-Karin Edstedt Bonamy, Ronny Wickstrom and Sven Cnattinguis. Pediatrics. 28 August, 2011.