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Mark Caserta: West Virginia leads the nation in troubling statistic
The Herald-Dispatch - 3/14/2018
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report was released last week, and once again the Mountain State received dubious recognition.
Per the report, about one in 14 women who gave birth in the United States in 2016 smoked cigarettes during pregnancy. This equated to about 7.2 percent of all expectant mothers. But while the percentage of pregnant smokers varied from state to state, guess which state led the pack? West Virginia.
The prevalence of pregnant mother's smoking was highest in West Virginia, where 25.1 percent of women reportedly smoked at some point during their pregnancy.
With what we've learned about nicotine, this is very troubling.
Growing up, my parents didn't know the risks involved in smoking. In fact, cigarette ads were prevalent in all forms of media until 1970, when our nation was alerted to the health risks involved with smoking cigarettes and advertising was banned.
Sadly, I watched as cigarette smoking caused my mother and father multiple health issues, eventually taking them from us, way too early in life. I still have family members and friends who struggle with tobacco products. I understand nicotine is a terribly addictive substance.
Today, per the CDC, cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. That's staggering. Electronic cigarettes, while generally having fewer harmful substances than cigarette smoke, are still not safe to use during pregnancy.
Here are the risks associated with smoking while pregnant, per the CDC.
Smoking slows your baby's growth before birth, and the child may be born too small.
Your baby may also be born too early (premature birth). Premature babies often have health problems.
Smoking can damage your baby's developing lungs and brain. The damage can last through childhood and into the teens.
Smoking doubles your risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery, which can put both you and your baby in danger.
Smoking raises your baby's risk for birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate or both. A cleft is an opening in your baby's lip or in the roof of the child's mouth (palate). He or she can have trouble eating properly and is likely to need surgery.
Babies of moms who smoke during pregnancy, as well as babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth, also have a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
A CDC column shared a smoking mother's experience.
Amanda smoked while she was pregnant. Her baby was born 2 months early and was kept in an incubator. "I'll never forget her tiny little cry," Amanda said. "It wasn't like the cries you hear, you know, a loud, screaming, typical baby cry. It was just this soft, little cry."
Please understand, I'm not being judgmental. I'm asking you to think twice before you light up that cigarette, anytime, but certainly when the health of your beautiful baby is at risk.
May God give you the strength and wisdom to make the right choices for your health and your child's.
I'm believing you'll do the right thing.
Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to HD Media opinion pages.