Share |

Smoke-free Corner by Greg Johnson - Pregnant Women

Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the country. In fact, the number of Hoosier mothers who have reported smoking during pregnancy is much higher than the national average of 10 percent.  In 2010, 17.1 of women in Indiana smoked during pregnancy.

More alarming statistics! Rates of smoking during pregnancy in most Indiana counties exceed state and national averages. Hoosier counties range from 3.9 percent to 35.9 percent, but 89 of 92 counties have rates higher than the national average. In fact, 69 of Indiana’s 92 counties have rates higher than Indiana’s own average!

2010 Birth Certificate Data:  LaGrange, Noble and Steuben Counties:

The following percentage of women from LaGrange, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben Counties who smoked during pregnancy:

·        LaGrange     7.5 percent

·        DeKalb        22.8 percent

·        Noble           24.0 percent

·        Steuben      24.0 percent

2007 Births to Women with Medicaid Coverage who smoked during pregnancy:

·        LaGrange   45 percent

·        DeKalb        39 percent

·        Noble           30 percent

·        Steuben      35 percent

Babies born with smoking-affected births to mothers from these counties who smoked  during pregnancy:

·        LaGrange        59

·        Noble              143

·        Steuben           85

·        DeKalb           122

This totals 409 babies born to moms who smoked.

Why it matters that you help pregnant moms:

·        Encourage all pregnant women to say ‘no” to smokers. A woman who lives in a home with a smoker puts her baby at risk, so for the benefit of the baby, it’s best for her family not to smoke around her. It’s an easy way to increase the chance of a healthy birth. (ACOG, Nov 2010.)

·        Pregnancy is a big motivator for many women to quit smoking. Almost 50 percent of women quit smoking right before or during pregnancy.

·        Reducing smoking rates in the U.S. by one percentage point prevents 1,300 low birth-weight babies, saving $21 million in direct medical costs each year. Over seven years, that’s 57,200 babies and $572 million. (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, July 1997.)

·        Washington, D.C. spends more than $5.7 million to care for babies born of smokers (or exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy, March 2002.)

·        Smoking rates don’t vary between ethnic groups in Indiana. But, 38 percent of women who did not complete high school do smoke. Rates decline as education levels increase. Women of all ethnicities, ages 25-34, are the highest proportion of smokers – prime child-bearing years.

Related costs of smoking to moms-to-be and their babies:

·        A pack of cigarettes costs over $5. A habit of two packs per day could pay for a pack of diapers – every day. One pack equals the cost of one to two items of baby clothes from a gently-used clothing store. One month of a daily pack habit easily competes with buying a car seat, bottles and other necessities.

·        The CDC estimated that for every $5 pack, it costs another $7.18 in healthcare. So, every $5 a mom-to-be spends on a pack eventually costs her another $7.18 in doctor visits, treatments, conditions, and medicines (2009).

      Money tight right now? Plenty of financial costs are associated with smoking while pregnant, aside from the direct cost of buying a pack:

·        Neonatal care costs for a low birth weight baby of $25-$35,000. Costs have skyrocketed since 1996 when this was reported.

·        Lifetime medical costs for a baby prenatally exposed to alcohol, drugs or tobacco $750,000-$1.4 million (2002 estimate, 2007 Consensus Report, Indiana Perinatal Network.)

·        Direct medical costs of a complicated birth are 66 percent higher for smokers – a sign that complications are much more severe for babies of smokers and intensive care more frequently required than for babies of non-smokers (CDC, 1997).

Having difficulty getting pregnant or wanting to have more children?

·        Twice as likely to have delayed conception and 30 percent more likely to be infertile - a woman who smokes and is trying to get pregnant vs. her non-smoking friends (Am. Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Nov 2010).

·        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the sooner a woman quits, the greater her chance of a healthy delivery and development. The very first “quit” day, her baby is already getting more oxygen than the day before. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that a woman who quits smoking before 15 weeks gestation increases the potential for a healthy birth/mom, and positive child development.

      Compelling data shows a direct relationship between smoking and mom/baby health before/at/after delivery.

    Preterm delivery:

·        Five to 8 percent of all preterm deliveries are directly linked to moms who smoke.

·        Thirty percent increase in chances (ACOG, Nov 2010).

·        In Indiana, 1.3 times more likely (PSPI 12 yr analysis)


·        Five to 7 percent of stillborn babies had moms who smoked during the pregnancy.

·        Low birth weight (5.5 pounds or less increases risk for illness/death).

·        Thirteen to 19 percent are due to moms smoking during pregnancy.

·        In Indiana, a mom who smokes is 2.1 times more likely to give birth to a tiny baby (PSPI 12 yr analysis).

·        The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk.

·        Don’t smoke, but around smokers? Chance for a low birth weight baby increase by 20 percent.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS):

·        Twenty-three to 34 percent are directly linked to mom smoking during pregnancy.

·        1.4 to three times more likely than for babies of non-smokers (ACOG, Nov 2010).

Increased risk of complications before and after birth:

·        In Indiana, 2.4 times more likely to have a small-for-gestational-age baby.

·        Increased incidence of hypertension and toxemia.

·        Two times more likely to experience premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption.

·        Ectopic pregnancy or intrauterine growth restriction.

·        Decreased thyroid function of mom-to-be.

·        Increased risk of genetic defects, poor health, disabilities.

Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen the fetus receives because it increases the amount of carbon monoxide, cyanide and aromatic hydrocarbons it receives.

The nicotine and other substances in tobacco cause reduced placental blood flow, which further reduces oxygen flow to the fetus, as well as important nutrients.

Both smoking and exposure to smoke during pregnancy directly impact babies once born. These babies and children have an increased risk of: abnormal blood pressure, cleft pallets and lips, childhood leukemia, infantile colic, childhood wheezing, respiratory disorders, asthma, childhood obesity, and eye problems.

Children of moms who smoked even ½ pack a day during pregnancy have an increased risk of brain damage and decreased childhood intellectual function.

Children of moms who smoke one pack a day during pregnancy have an 85 percent increased risk of being born with mental retardation.  Children born of smokers are twice as likely to have behavioral problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder.

Exposure to other smokers during pregnancy increases the chance that the baby will develop frequent ear infections, pneumonia, mental retardation, slower growth, hyperactivity, and learning disabilities. They frequently have lower scores on cognitive development tests at age 2 compared to kids from smoke-free homes during pregnancy.


Source: Preventing Smokefree Pregnancies in Indiana (PSPI)

To learn more about Indiana State Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission efforts in your area, visit

Greg Johnson of Tobacco-Free Northeast Indiana (TFNEI) may be reached at 260-350-9166 or