The dangers of pregnant women smoking cannot be overstated enough, with abundant studies on the dangers the habit can wreak on both mother and baby. But a new government study shows that over 7% of women, or one in 14, still light up during pregnancy.
The most likely candidates for smoking while carrying a baby are younger, less-educated women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CBS News reports.
Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, said, “Since smoking exposes both the woman and the fetus to serious health risks, more intense smoking cessation counseling is recommended for this population of smokers.”
Alaska natives and Native Americans were the most prone to smoking while pregnant at 16.7%, with certain states in the country clocking in higher smoking rates among mothers-to-be. The report was based on data gathered in 2016.
The most prevalent pregnant smokers were in West Virginia at 25%, followed by Kentucky at 18%, Montana at 16.5%, Vermont at 15.5%, and Missouri at 15%. The lowest rates were in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C.—all of them had a less than 5% smoking rate for pregnant women.
Folan said, “This study indicates that women of certain age groups, ethnicity and educational background are more likely to smoke during pregnancy. Anti-tobacco educational media campaigns targeting these populations may help bring more awareness to the importance of quitting during pregnancy and remaining quit after delivery.” She added,
When possible, engaging women to quit preconception is ideal.
The smoking rate was highest among pregnant women in their early 20s at 10.7%, followed by teen moms ages 15 to 19 at 8.5%, and those ages 25 to 29 at 8.2%. The habit was least prevalent among those ages 45 and over at just 2%.
“Health care providers, including obstetricians, midwives and pediatricians, should stress the importance of quitting and offer nonjudgmental counseling, support, follow-up and relapse prevention strategies to pregnant women,” Folan said.