Quit Smoking: 10 Overlooked Reasons (cont.)

Smoking likely puts into effect a vicious cycle of artery damage, clotting and increased risk of stroke, causing mental decline, writes researcher A. Ott, MD, a medical microbiologist with Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

The bottom line: The study provides substantial evidence that chronic tobacco use is harmful to the brain and speeds up onset of Alzheimer's disease, Ott says.

Lupus: Smoking Raises Risk of Autoimmune Disease

Smoking cigarettes raises the risk of developing lupus -- but quitting cuts that risk, an analysis of nine studies shows.

Systemic lupus erythematosus -- known as lupus -- is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation, pain, and tissue damage throughout the body. Although some people with lupus have mild symptoms, it can become quite severe.

For the analysis, Harvard researchers reviewed studies that examined the relationship between cigarette smoking and lupus. Among current smokers, there was "a small but significant increased risk" for the development of lupus, they report. Former smokers did not have this increased risk, according to the study, which appeared in the March issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

SIDS: Maternal Smoking Doubles Risk

Smoking increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, a European analysis shows.

The researchers compared 745 SIDS cases with more than 2,400 live babies for comparison and concluded that just under half of all deaths were attributable to infants sleeping on their stomachs or sides. Roughly 16% of SIDS deaths were linked to bed sharing, but for unknown reasons, bed sharing was particularly risky when the mother smoked. The risk was very small when mothers did not smoke during pregnancy, the researchers say.

Maternal smoking alone was associated with a doubling in SIDS risk. The risk was 17 times greater, however, for babies who bed shared and had mothers who smoked. The findings are reported in the Jan. 17 issue of The Lancet.

"The safest thing to do is to put the baby to bed on his back with no bedcovers in the same room with parents who don't smoke," London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine epidemiologist Robert G. Carpenter, PhD, tells WebMD.

Colic: Smoking Makes Babies Irritable, Too

Exposure to tobacco smoke may increase babies' risk of colic, according to a review of more than 30 studies on the topic.

Colic often starts a few weeks after birth, peaking at about 5 to 8 weeks of age. It usually goes away by 4 months of age. Babies' symptoms include irritability, inconsolable crying, red face, clenched fists, drawn-up legs, and screaming.