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Smoking While Pregnant — You May Be Surprised Who’s Doing It

Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images

It’s no news that smoking is bad for us, and that the risks are compounded for expectant mothers.

Research shows pregnant smokers have a higher risk of premature births, birth defects, low birth weight, miscarriages and stillbirths — so it’s especially shocking that a new study reveals more than a fifth of white women continue to light up while they’re eating for two.

The report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which surveyed 67,000 Americans, found pregnant white women had the highest rates of cigarette smoking at almost 22 percent, compared with 14 percent among African-American women and less than seven percent among Hispanic women.

Drinking alcoholic beverages while pregnant is also risky to the fetus, yet the study also found more than 12 percent of white and black expectant mothers continue to imbibe, while only seven percent of Hispanic women do so. Hispanic women were also the least likely to use illegal drugs while pregnant.

Pamela S. Hyde of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said, “When pregnant women use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit substances, they are risking health problems for themselves and poor birth outcomes for their babies … It is essential that we use the findings from this report to develop better ways of getting this message out to every segment of our community.”


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