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DHS news release

May 8, 2008

General contact: Patrick O'Neill, 971-673-2298
Program contact: Cathryn Cushing, 971-673-1013

Fewer moms smoke while pregnant

Since the beginning of Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program in 1996, the proportion of mothers who smoked while pregnant has decreased 30 percent. Because of this decrease in smoking, about 17,000 infants have had a healthier start to life.

"This decline in the number of moms smoking during their pregnancies is great news for Mother's Day," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist with the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division. "Mothers want to have healthier babies, and one of the most important things they can do for their children is to stop smoking."

Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to miscarry or have a still birth. Infants born to mothers who smoke are more likely to be premature and low birthweight, which increases their risk of death and disease. Smoking while pregnant, and near a newborn, significantly increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

"Although we have seen a steady decline in the number of women smoking while pregnant, there is still much to do," Kohn said. "Oregon's proportion of pregnant smokers is higher than the national average -- 12 percent compared with 10 percent nationally."

In 2005, 5,643 infants were born to Oregon mothers who used tobacco during pregnancy. Each of these pregnancies costs an average of $749 more than a birth to a non-smoking woman. Oregon's neonatal healthcare costs were increased by nearly $4.2 million in 2005 due to smoking during pregnancy.

"Quitting smoking is so important for moms and dads," Kohn said. "If you would like to quit smoking and improve the health of your family, there is no-cost, confidential help available at the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line. Call 800-QUIT-NOW for free coaching, tips, advice and medication."