I’ve heard headlines this week about how great we are doing at decreasing smoking during pregnancy. But smoking rates among pregnant teens increased by 5% between 1994 and 1999, according to an August 28, 2001 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost one in five pregnant 18-19 year old women continue to smoke. Progress is indeed being made in other areas: non-teens who are pregnant smoked steadily less throughout the 1990’s — but in 1999 just over 12% of all women still reported smoking during their pregnancies!
The 2001 Surgeon General’s Report on Women and Smoking concludes that smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for massive hemorrhaging during delivery, for preterm delivery, and for poor growth of the baby before birth. The longer the mother smokes during pregnancy, the greater the effect. The risk for stillbirths, for neonatal deaths, and the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are higher for the children of women who smoke during pregnancy. We also know that smoking during pregnancy damages babies’ brains and makes them more jittery.
One of the best gifts these women can give to themselves and to their babies is to get the help they need to stop smoking. Ask your doctor to find out how.