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Smoking During Pregnancy

Narrative

Smoking during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the health of women, infants, and children by increasing the risk of fertility problems and pregnancy complications, as well as preterm birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome—some of the leading causes of infant mortality.1 Quitting smoking prior to and any time during pregnancy carries benefits, especially considering the many additional risks of postnatal tobacco smoke exposure for infants and children including respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma.1

In 2006–2008, 12.2 percent of recent mothers in a 29-state area reported that they had smoked in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Smoking in the last 3 months of pregnancy varied significantly by maternal education level, ranging from 2.3 percent among women with 16 or more years of education to 20.9 percent among women with less than 12 years of education. The proportion of women who smoked in the last 3 months of pregnancy also varied by maternal race and ethnicity. About one-quarter of non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native mothers (25.8 percent) reported having smoked in the last 3 months of pregnancy, while less than 5 percent of non-Hispanic Asian and Hispanic mothers reported doing so (2.4 and 3.9 percent, respectively).

Due to awareness of the neonatal health consequences of smoking, pregnancy may be a time period of heightened motivation to quit. In 2006–2008, 45.3 percent of mothers in a 29-state area who reported smoking in the 3 months prior to pregnancy had not smoked in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Smoking cessation during pregnancy varied significantly by maternal education level. More than 70 percent of women with 16 or more years of education who smoked prior to pregnancy had quit smoking by the last 3 months of pregnancy. By contrast, fewer than one-third of mothers with less than 12 years of education had quit smoking during pregnancy (28.7 percent). Medicaid coverage of both medication and counseling for smoking cessation may help women with less education and resources to successfully quit smoking.2

1 Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010. Retrieved from Office of the Surgeon General. Accessed 03/31/11.
2 Petersen R, Garrett JM, Melvin CL, Hartmann KE. Medicaid Reimbursement for Smoking Intervention Influences Quitting and Cessation. Tobacco Control. 2006;15(1):30-4.

Graphs

Data

Cigarette Smoking in the Last 3 Months of Pregnancy, by Maternal Education Level, 2006–2008*

Percent of Mothers:

  • Total: 12.2
  • Less than 12 Years: 20.9
  • 12 Years: 18.0
  • 13-15 Years: 11.4
  • 16 Years or More: 2.3

*Includes data from a total of 29 states and New York City; 20 states contributed all 3 years; mothers completed surveys between 2 and 9 months postpartum.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2006-2008. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.

Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy,* by Maternal Education Level, 2006–2008**

Percent of Mothers:

  • Total: 45.3
  • Less than 12 Years: 28.7
  • 12 Years: 42.8
  • 13-15 Years: 52.7
  • 16 Years or More: 72.5

*Defined as the proportion of mothers who reported not smoking in the last 3 months of pregnancy among those who reported smoking in the three months prior to pregnancy.
**Includes data from a total of 29 states and New York City; 20 states contributed all 3 years; mothers completed surveys between 2 and 9 months postpartum.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2006-2008. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.

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