Alarming Number of Women Still Smoke During Pregnancy

March 7, 2016
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It’s a widely-known fact that smoking poses serious risks to a person’s health — and smoking during pregnancy not only harms a woman’s body, but it puts her growing baby at risk, too.

Still, a concerning number of expecting women continue to smoke cigarettes throughout pregnancy, according to a report published in the Feb. 10 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Vital Statistics Reports.

Lead researcher, Sally Curtin, a statistician at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, says that smoking among pregnant women is actually under-reported, meaning many more women smoke than will admit to it.

“But even 8.4 percent who smoked at any time during pregnancy is a lot of women,” Curtin said. “We have 3.8 million births — that’s about 300,000 babies each year.”

Smoking puts a fetus for increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight, which increases the chances for mental and developmental problems that can affect someone for the rest their lives. Premature birth is also a risk factor for cerebral palsy, lung disease and premature death.

Even smoking e-cigarettes can be harmful during pregnancy, according to another recent study. This research suggests e-cigarette vapor can affect baby’s coordination, learning skills and memory later on in life. E-cigarette use during pregnancy has also been linked to an increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning difficulties.

“Women may be turning to e-cigarettes as an alternative because they think they’re safe. Well, they’re not,” Professor Judith Zelikoff, from New York University’s department of environmental science, told Sky News.

The best thing women who are looking to start a family can do is to quit smoking before they become pregnant. The CDC offers a wealth of information and support for smokers who are trying to kick the habit. Here are some steps to get started:

  • Write down why you want to quit. To be a good example for your children? For your health? For your family’s health?
  • Know that it will take commitment and effort to quit smoking. Most smokers end up feeling symptoms of withdrawal during the quitting process, as nicotine is highly addictive. There are nicotine replacement products that can help make the process more bearable, as well as non-nicotine cessation medications.
  • Get help if you want it.  Smokers can receive free resources and assistance to help them quit by calling the 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline (1-800-784-8669.)

For even more information about kicking that smoking habit, check out these tips from former smokers.

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