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Report: Pregnant Michiganders Smoking at Alarming Rates

A new report says Michigan is not investing enough in prenatal cessation and smoking prevention. (Pixabay)
A new report says Michigan is not investing enough in prenatal cessation and smoking prevention. (Pixabay)
November 17, 2016

LANSING, Mich. -- Smoking during pregnancy can cause a multitude of negative health outcomes for a child, yet pregnant women in Michigan are lighting up at higher rates now than they were several years ago.

There has been an 18 percent increase in the smoking rate among pregnant women since 2008, according to data released Thursday by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Kids Count Project Director Alicia Guevara Warren said it's a startling increase given all the knowledge available about the risks of smoking. But kicking the habit is difficult, and she said the state has not invested enough in prenatal cessation and smoking prevention.

"In fact, we very minimally support these types of programs,” Warren said. “The American Lung Association actually grades Michigan an 'F' in smoking prevention and cessation and also for access to these types of programs."

According to Warren, state and federal funds for smoking prevention and cessation initiatives in the 2017 budget were down by more than one-third from 2008 levels. The annual Right Start report on maternal and child health also found the rate of preterm births jumped dramatically - up 20 percent from 2008 to 2014.

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with not only preterm births but also low birth weight, infant death and other complications.

The report found the rate of pregnant women smoking is the highest among white mothers, and rates were higher in rural counties than in more densely populated areas. Warren said efforts to reduce and prevent smoking need to be boosted among pregnant women, as well as youth.

"The majority of people who are smoking as adults actually started smoking either at age 18 or prior to 18,” Warren said, "so we really need to think about how we can fund programs to prevent smoking looking at our regulations around trying to prevent smoking."

Overall, the report did show improvements in five of eight indicators of maternal and child health in Michigan - including a 30 percent drop in the rate of births to women under age 20, as well as a decrease in repeat teen births and births to mothers without a high school diploma.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI