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    Mar 5, 2018

    More Pregnant Women Are Smoking Today Than You Probably Thought

    Smoking while pregnant can lead to low birthweight, preterm birth, and birth defects.

    New data from the CDC suggests that something thought to be largely all but nonexistent today — women smoking while pregnant — is more prevalent than you may realize. / Via Creative Commons

    According to the study, 7.2% of women who gave birth in 2016 — or slightly more than 1 in 14 — smoked during their pregnancy.

    Pregnant women aged 20–24 smoked the most (10.7%), followed by women aged 15–19 (8.5%) and 25–29 (8.2%).

    When looking at the data state by state, pregnant women in West Virginia lit up the most (25.1%), followed by Kentucky (18.4%), and Montana (16.5%).

    The least prevalence of smoking while pregnant — less than 5% — was found in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

    To learn more about smoking while pregnant, BuzzFeed posed a couple questions to Mary Jane Minkin, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, and founder of Madame Ovary:

    Dr. Minkin, the CDC report says "Maternal tobacco use during pregnancy has been linked to a host of negative infant and child outcomes, including low birthweight, preterm birth, and various birth defects." What more should women know about smoking while pregnant?

    “Smoking during pregnancy is bad — there is no question about it. The data on birth defects per se is small, but there is a host of other incontrovertible data which has accumulated over many years.

    For example, pregnant women who smoke have a substantially higher risk of carrying babies that are small for their gestational age (smoking actually constricts the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the fetus). Pregnant women who smoke also have a significantly higher risk of pre-term birth (prematurity), a higher risk of their babies dying from SIDS, and a higher risk of a condition called placental abruption, where the placenta just pulls off the wall of the uterus — so the baby's oxygen supply stops. (By the way, the absolute worst cause of abruption is cocaine use. Whenever a women comes in with an abruption, we automatically screen for cocaine in the system). So these are the major issues associated with smoking while pregnant."

    If a smoker gets pregnant (perhaps unexpectedly), is there a safe way to quit besides going cold turkey which may be hard for some people?

    "When it comes to nicotine substitution, we just don't know. There is some data that says it's the nicotine (not the smoke, etc.) that causes these problems — and some folks say that gum or lozenges are better because there isn't the chronic exposure all the time to the nicotine — but it really isn't known for certain.

    So what I always suggest is that it is ideal to not smoke at all during pregnancy, but one should always try to cut down to the absolute minimum they can handle.”

    You can review the full data from the CDC here.

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