Thirteen Percent of Pregnant Women in Wisconsin Smoke

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Breaking the addiction of smoking is extremely difficult, even when there's a strong incentive like pregnancy.

According to the State Department of Health Services, 13 percent of pregnant women in the state are smokers. The state health department is hoping new programs will encourage them to quit and stay quit.

While about one in seven pregnant women smoke, here in Central Wisconsin the rates are even higher. These rates come from the Burden of Tobacco in Wisconsin Report 2010:

Adams County: 34.4 percent
Forest County: 28.8 percent
Langlade County: 23.5 percent
Lincoln County: 20.1 percent
Marathon County: 17.4 percent
Oneida County: 23 percent
Portage County: 12.3 percent
Taylor County: 19.1 percent
Wood County: 20.9 percent

"It is very startling to know so many pregnant women are smoking because that’s really the first line of defense for the health of their fetuses to be healthy newborns," said Dot Kalmon, the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition Coordinator.

According to the State Department of Health Services, smoking while pregnant can cause a whole host of problems for mom and baby.

Among them are miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome. Mothers are at risk for heart disease and several types of cancer.

Despite the blatant health risks, because of the extremely addictive nature of nicotine it's difficult to drop the habit for good.

"Typically these women are surrounded by friends and family who also smoke which is a predictor of whether you smoke and also how successful you’ll be in quitting," Kalmon said.

She encourages pregnant women and new moms who smoke to take advantage of new smoking cessation programs.

Wisconsin's First Breath program provides quit-smoking counseling to expectant mothers. Badger Care Plus members who are pregnant and smoke may be eligible for Striving to Quit, which offers cash incentives and up to a year of support after the baby's born.

Continuous support is vital for quitting success. A third of women who quit smoking while pregnant start up again shortly after giving birth.

It takes an average of seven to 11 times of attempting to quit before quitting for good.

All smokers are encouraged to call the state's tobacco helpline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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