Would-be moms still smoke, despite risk

Tobacco-related health disparities continue to be an issue within our community.

A “tobacco disparity” refers to a sub-population or pocket of people that “stand out” from their peers on some tobacco-related health dimensions. One example is pregnant smokers.

Smoking has an effect on the developing child as reflected in the rate of premature births and low birth weight, not to mention an increased risk for childhood illnesses. While the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Study reports that 18 percent of Wisconsin adults smoke cigarettes, the number or rate for smoking during pregnancy in Wisconsin is 13.7 percent as of 2013. For Sheboygan County, the rate is 15.5 percent of pregnant women who smoke, which has increased in the past two years.

Jan Scholke, a registered nurse and an ATODA committee member states, “It’s important to encourage women to quit smoking before or early in pregnancy, when the most health benefits can be achieved.”

But cessation in all stages, even in late pregnancy, benefits maternal and fetal health. Benefits to womens health from quitting smoking are enormous and immediate. This data reflect how disparities are growing, even though our overall smoking rate is down.

In the last 50 years, a woman’s risk of dying from smoking has more than tripled and is no.w. the same to man’s risks. The US has more than 20 million women and girls who currently smoke cigarettes. Women who smoke are more likely to die from COPD than men who smoke. More than 170,000 American women die of diseases caused by smoking each year — these include heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, lung disease and other serious chronic diseases.

The women most likely to smoke today are among the most vulnerable, those disadvantaged by low-income, less education and mental health disorders. Women in these groups are also less likely to quit smoking when they become pregnant and are more likely to start smoking again. This worsens the dangerous health effects from smoking on mothers and children.

We do know that smoking can be a threat to a safe and healthy pregnancy and to healthy babies and mothers.

Most people find a combination of resources to quit smoking workbest.Manysmokersdo not quit on their first attempt and have several tries to successfully quit, but the benefits are well worth it. Keep trying.

Women and men who want to quit smoking should ask their doctors for help. Call 1-800QUITNOW, visit www.dhs.wisconsin. gov\tobacco, www.healthysheboygancounty. org or call 920-459-4382.

Registered nurse Liz Abler is a member of the HSC2020 ATODA Prevention/Mental Health Committee