It’s no secret that smoking during pregnancy can lead to a whole host of problems for both mother and baby. It’s not the 1950s; we’re all fairly well-educated about the dangers of smoking. There are even warnings right there on the pack about how smoking while pregnant can harm your baby.
Yet, in Spokane County, Washington, women don’t seem to have received the message.
According to a recent study on pregnancy and smoking, women in that county are actually more likely to smoke during pregnancy than women – pregnant or not – around the rest of the state. 18% of pregnant women in the county smoke at some time during their pregnancy. Overall, about 10% of pregnant women in the state smoke.
The study shows that smoking rates are highest in low-income neighborhoods, which is somewhat ironic given the high cost of cigarettes today. For example, the West Central neighborhood in Spokane, which is the zip code with the lowest income levels in the entire state, also has the highest rate of pregnant women smoking in the nation. In that neighborhood, 41% of pregnant women smoke.
In contract, the neighborhood of Manito has a much higher income level, and only 4% of pregnant women smoke there.
Smoking causes pregnancy problems
It’s worth taking a moment to remember exactly why it is that pregnant women shouldn’t smoke. Some of the danger of smoking during pregnancy include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Respiratory problems
- Slow growth
- Higher risk of SIDS
- Higher risk of birth defects
Some of these risks are huge; a woman who smokes is between 2. 5 and 3.5 times as likely to have a baby that is low birth weight. Preterm delivery is more common by a factor of 1.5 to 2.5.
If you’re pregnant and smoke, you’re asking for trouble. If you know someone who’s pregnant and smokes, you need to alert them to the dangers.
What do you think about all of this? Should smoking rates for pregnant women be this high today? What can or should be done to lower them?