- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The percentage of mothers who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy declined by more than one-third from 2016 to 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The percentage dropped from 7.2% to 4.6% among all mothers over the five years, the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System reported in a data brief.

“Smoking during pregnancy is a known risk factor for poor pregnancy outcome and, therefore, declines in maternal smoking of this magnitude and across age, maternal race and Hispanic groups and across all of the U.S. states are positive findings,” Joyce Martin, a CDC statistician and author of the report, told The Washington Times.

Researchers examined birth certificate data. Their report did not discuss reasons for the decrease, and CDC officials said they could not speculate on the causes. 

But some medical experts familiar with the report noted that government-funded campaigns against cigarette smoking have driven down the number of tobacco users in recent decades.

“I imagine the public health efforts to reduce the use of tobacco in young adults continue to see an impact on a population that is vulnerable, such as women who are pregnant,” said Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a physician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

Because the CDC report did not include other forms of tobacco use, it’s impossible to know whether some pregnant mothers have switched to vaping instead, Dr. Galiatsatos said.

Smoking during pregnancy declined across age groups and all 50 states but remained higher among younger women, the CDC report found.

The practice dropped by 23% among mothers aged 30–34 (5.2% to 4.0%), by 18% among mothers aged 35–39 (4.4% to 3.6%) and by 6% for mothers 40 and older (3.5% to 3.3%).

“Despite the larger declines in smoking levels among mothers under age 30, these mothers continued to be more likely to smoke than mothers aged 30 and over in 2021,” the CDC reported.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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