More than 8 percent of women smoke while pregnant, despite risks

About 8.4 percent of women smoke during pregnancy, despite the risks for the developing fetus, according to new data out Wednesday from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The habit is most prevalent during the first two trimesters, with 20.6 percent of women who smoked during pregnancy quitting by the third trimester.

The CDC warns that smoking while pregnant raises the risk of premature deliveries, low birth weight, and certain birth defects, such as cleft lips. The babies are also at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Other major findings:

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  • 1 in 10 women who gave birth in 2014 smoked in the three months before they got pregnant.

  • The highest rate of smoking during pregnancy occurred in American Indian or Alaskan Native women, 18 percent of whom smoked at some point while pregnant.

  • About 13 percent of women between ages 20 and 24 who gave birth last year smoked while pregnant, the highest prevalence of any age group.

  • Smoking during pregnancy was least common in California — just 1.8 percent of women did so. The rate was highest in West Virginia, where 27.1 percent of women smoked during pregnancy.

  • Women who smoked during pregnancy did smoke fewer cigarettes as the pregnancy went on — on average, they smoked 13 cigarettes a day before becoming pregnant and 9 cigarettes a day by the third trimester.

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