Smoking During Pregnancy 'Underreported', Study Finds

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald July 11, 04:50 am
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New research has suggested that there are more American women who are smoking while they are pregnant than what was previously reported. Researchers studied the urine samples of pregnant women for nicotine. These pregnant women had reported their smoking habits during the course of their pregnancy.

These 708 women gave birth at a community hospital in Cincinnati, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch. According to their self-reported smoking information, 8.6 percent of the women smoked during the last three months of their pregnancy but nicotine in their urine showed that 16.5 percent had high-level nicotine exposure while 7.5 percent had low exposure from second-hand smoke.

Smoking While Pregnant Underreported

"We have long suspected that smoking status during pregnancy is under-reported. But now we know just how many women struggle to quit smoking when they are pregnant," said the study's senior author Dr. Jim Greenberg as per a report from CBS News. Greenberg is the director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

According to the report, the researchers said that when women smoke during their pregnancy, they have a 25 percent higher risk of giving birth prematurely. Smoking is also said to cause sudden infant death syndrome and birth defects. Only 8 percent of the black women reportedly said they smoked but nicotine traces in their urine showed that 21 percent of them smoked.

Preventing Smoking In Pregnant Women

The underreporting of smoking during pregnancy shows "a significant lack of public health efforts" to reduce smoking in pregnant women, especially pregnant women who belong to ethnic minorities. This is according to health experts, as per a report from Daily Mail.

"The public health community has long assumed that targeted campaigns toward minority women are not needed because we've relied on self-reported data," Greenberg was quoted as saying, adding that there needs to be new support in anti-smoking programs for women in the minority. Greenberg and his colleagues' study on pregnant women and smoking was published in the Journal of Perinatology.

How do you propose to address smoking in pregnant women? Share your thoughts below.

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