You Won't Believe How Many Pregnant Women Are Still Smoking

New CDC data finds a surprising number of women still smoke during pregnancy.
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The risks are many. Low birth weight, a higher incidence of SIDS, and birth defects are all potential dangers for a baby whose mother smokes during pregnancy. Yet according to a new CDC report, a surprising 8.4 percent of moms are still smoking while pregnant.

The data in the press release is sobering. The National Center for Health Statistics also found:

  • The age at which pregnant women were most likely to smoke was between 20 and 24.
  • Non-hispanic American Indian women smoked at the highest rate while pregnant.

The sort-of-good news is 20.6 percent of women who smoked in the first or second trimesters quit by the third trimester. And women who continued to puff cigarettes smoked fewer as their pregnancy progressed, lighting up nine per day by the third trimester versus 13 per day before pregnancy. Of course, no amount of cigarettes is safe during pregnancy.

Smoking around babies and children of any age is also very dangerous. David Tinkleman, MD at National Jewish Health, says though the statistics paint a good picture overall, with more than 90 percent of pregnant women not smoking, they fail to address the rate at which women who quit smoking pick up the habit again after their pregnancy is over. Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase a child's risk for a host of problems, from asthma and SIDS to poorer cognitive function and obesity.

The takeaway: Don't smoke if you're pregnant, or have had a baby, or if you're a parent—or if you're a human being! Get help quitting from a doctor if you cannot do it on your own.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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