Pregnant Women And Smoking In Indiana Reveals Distributing Trends

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Smoking and Pregnancy

As the debate continues over increasing the price of cigarettes in Indiana, disturbing facts are emerging regarding the rate at which pregnant women are smoking in Indiana.

Approximately 18 percent of women in Indiana smoked during their pregnancy in 2004, a slight decline from 21 percent in 1999, but still a troubling trend nonetheless. The national average is 10.2 percent.

"We have pregnancy smoking rates in some counties in Indiana as high as 33 percent," said State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. "More troubling is that in 72 of Indiana's 92 counties, the rate is higher than the state average. It shows this problem is not going away and needs our attention."

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"One of the most efficient ways to bring down the smoking rate among pregnant women is to increase the price of cigarettes through a higher cigarette tax, said Karla Sneegas, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. "With a one dollar increase, it would result in 16,000 fewer smoking affected births over the next five years."

What is worse, the costs associated with mothers who smoke in Indiana is reported to be $28 million. Adding to the problem is the fact that 51 percent of the births are to mothers who are on Medicaid.

According to Jan Arnold, state director of program services, March of Dimes Indiana Chapter, up to 14 percent of the incidence of preterm births and low-birth weight can be attributed to maternal smoking. Many of the affected newborns require neonatal intensive care, costing approximately 10 times more for preterm ($32,325) than for term infants ($3,325) in medical care in the first year of life.

Dr. Monroe said smoking during pregnancy is also associated with a number of poor health outcomes including:

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