A new report put out by the government shows that alarming numbers of women are still smoking while pregnant. The report shows that just over 7 percent of women smoke tobacco while pregnant. The findings were based on birth certificate data for 2016 collected from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System.
The most likely to continue smoking while pregnant were younger and less educated moms-to-be. The smoking rate was highest among pregnant women in their early 20s, followed by those aged 15 to 19. The rate was lowest among those aged 45 and over.
The study found that rates of smoking during pregnancy were highest for women with a high school diploma, followed by women with less than a high school diploma. The number decreased for women with some college or an associate degree and fell even further with increasing education.
Certain areas of the country saw higher smoking rates among pregnant women. The study showed that women in West Virginia were the most likely to smoke while pregnant, followed by Kentucky, Montana, Vermont, and Missouri. The lowest rates were seen in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C., with each having a prevalence of less than 5 percent.
Native Americans and Alaska natives were more prone to smoke while pregnant, followed by white women. Hispanic women and Asian women reported the lowest rates. There is some good news though. The overall rate has gone down. In 2011, about 10 percent of women in the U.S. reported smoking during their last three months of pregnancy.
The dangers of smoking during pregnancy to both mother and baby are well known. Health experts recommend that at-risk moms-to-be be given access to intense smoking cessation counseling to help protect their health and the health of their baby. Patrick Drake, senior author of the report and a demographer at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, said, “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 National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released the report. The report had some limitations, including that the data on smoking during pregnancy were self-reported. The social stigma of smoking while pregnant may mean that many women are less likely to admit to it, resulting in an under-reporting of the figures.