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Pregnancy and Smoking I Identification of a Public Health Issue Currently each day approximately 1500 women start smoking for the first time These new smokers join the ranks of the 222 million American women who smoke cigarettes Ernster 1993 Of this amount approximately 20 to 45 percent are pregnant Windsor Li Lowe Perkins Ershoff and Glynn 1993 Smoking during pregnancy leads to very serious consequences for both the mother and the unborn child however there are ways to convince pregnant women to cease smoking There are a number of very serious problems that are associated with tobacco use during pregnancy In fact a study has revealed that smoking cigarettes during pregnancy presents a more critical danger to healthy births than does using cocaine while pregnant Blackwell 1995 Moreover several studies have shown that approximately 15 to 45 percent of all unfavorable pregnancy outcomes may be caused by smoking McIntosh 1984 Some of the pregnancy problems that are caused by smoking include depressed fetal development lower birth weights and increased prenatal and perinatal death rates Further smoking has also been associated with decreased fertility and diminished lactation Moreover smoking during pregnancy has been linked to increase childhood cancer and at least one study has reported a relationship between sudden infant death syndrome SIDS and smoking during pregnancy II Ways in Which the Public is Educated About the Issue The high incidence of smoking during pregnancy presents a serious public health problem numerous interventions have been developed to counter the current trend As discussed smoking during pregnancy is more prevalent among women of lower economic classes and those who are less educated Accordingly many interventions and education plans have targeted these groups Studies have shown that implementing a minimal-contact smoking cessation program that is part of a clinic visit is quite feasible Public health settings provide an opportunity to reach a broad spectrum of women and
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