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1 in 14 Women Are Still Smoking While Pregnant, CDC Study Reveals

Photograph by Twenty20

We all know that smoking while pregnant is bad for Baby. Not only can it lead to certain birth defects, it can also result in premature birth or cause low birth weight. Every drag a pregnant woman takes off a cigarette increases her baby's chance of stillbirth or sudden infant death syndrome. So, why are 1 in 14 pregnant women still puffing away?

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics published their thoughts on the subject, in "Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy: United States, 2016."

Though the percentage of pregnant smokers varied from state to state, findings showed that moms-to-be aged 20 to 24 were most likely to light up while expecting a baby, followed by girls aged 15 to 19 and those between the ages of 25 and 29.

Age isn’t the only factor, however. Schooling also plays a role in deciding when to quit. For example, the majority of maternal smokers only had a high school education (12.2 percent), while the second-highest group received less than a high school diploma (11.7 percent). On the contrary, expectant mothers with a master’s degree or higher were less likely to smoke cigarettes (0.4 percent).

Findings showed that moms-to-be aged 20 to 24 were most likely to light up while expecting a baby.

The study also took into account women’s ethnicity and found that Native American women ranked highest among smoking mothers-to-be, at 16.7 percent. Next up were white women (10.5 percent), followed by African-American women (6 percent), Hispanic women (1.8 percent) and Asian women (0.6 percent).

Overall, the CDC claims that 7.2 percent of women continue to smoke while pregnant, despite the danger it poses to the fetus.

In 2015, Lancaster University shared disturbing 4-D ultrasound scans of how fetuses react to its mother smoking. You can, literally, see them coughing and choking inside the womb while mom kicks back and takes another drag.

The question remains: How do we stop future moms-to-be from breathing tobacco into their unborn baby’s lungs?

According to CBS News, Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y., and lead author of the study believes that anti-tobacco educational media campaigns targeting these populations may help bring more awareness to the importance of quitting during pregnancy and remaining cigarette-free after delivery.

"When possible, engaging women to quit pre-conception is ideal," she adds.

Folan also says that, because there is a greater stigma associated with smoking during pregnancy, "a health care provider's sensitivity and empathy during coaching and counseling will increase the likelihood that a pregnant woman will disclose her smoking behavior and be receptive to cessation advice."

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