Around one in 14 women who had babies in 2016 smoked cigarettes during pregnancy, a new report has revealed.
While smoking has long been known to increase the risk of babies being born earlier and smaller, as well as increasing the risk of miscarriage, many women struggle to break the addiction while expecting a child.
New research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, has found that more than seven per cent of American women who had babies in 2016 smoked during their pregnancies.
Though the figures indicate that the rate of smoking during pregnancy has dropped by about three per cent since 2011, the figure is still alarmingly high.
The new research also found that women who were pregnant between the ages of 20 and 24 were most likely to smoke, as were women who had lower levels of education, suggesting that early informative and preventative efforts may not be reaching these higher risk groups.
Rates of smoking during pregnancy also varied significantly based on race and education level.
The practice was most common among American Indian and Alaska Native women with figures indicating that more than 16 per cent of these groups lit up while carrying a baby.
Far more native Americans smoke than do people of other races in the US – the rate is nearly three times that of the national average, which has led to higher rates of many diseases among this population.
Smoking during pregnancy was also relatively common among white women, with more than 10 per cent reporting that they continued to smoke while pregnant. But only six per cent of black women and 1.8 percent of Hispanic carried on smoking during pregnancy.
Commenting on the findings Patrick Drake, senior author of the report and a demographer at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said: “Despite the well-understood risk to mother and child, still, about one of every 14 women in the United States smoked during pregnancy.”
“These levels do vary widely by state, maternal age, race and Hispanic origin, and education, but any amount of smoking during pregnancy is too much.”
The NHS warns that every cigarette a mum-to-be smokes contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when pregnant harms the unborn baby.
Cigarettes can also restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby. As a result, their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke.
Further research, reported by The Guardian, also revealed that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, such as club foot and missing limbs.
According to the NHS, the study was the first to specifically look at the risk of birth defects and found that the risk of various birth defects increased for mothers who smoked, with the odds rising from between 9% and 50% for different abnormalities.
For any mums-to-be trying to quit smoking, the NHS offers a lot of help and support advice to help pregnant women to stop smoking. They recommend registering with Smokefree, or contacting your local Stop Smoking Service for more information.
Start4Life also has lots of helpful tips and advice for a healthy pregnancy.
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