BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health reported Wednesday that fewer North Dakota women are smoking while pregnant compared to two years ago based on birth certificate records.
The North Dakota statewide smoking rate in 2015 was at 13.8 percent. According to the NDDoH, the statewide pregnancy smoking rate dropped to 11.6 percent in August 2016.
“The dramatic difference in pregnancy smoking rates from 2015 to 2016 shows North Dakota’s commitment to helping people break their addiction to nicotine and enjoy tobacco-free lives,” said Neil Charvat, tobacco prevention and control program director for the State of North Dakota, in a release sent Wednesday. “This is the most significant improvement in the year-to-year pregnancy smoking rate in the last 10 years. We’re thrilled to see more mothers making healthy choices for their future children.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the national pregnancy smoking rate is 8.4 percent, and North Dakota is within reach of the statistic. The NDDoH stated that of 26.6 percent of North Dakota women reported as smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy quit by the third trimester.
“Women who smoke while pregnant can increase their risk of health problems including complications with pregnancy, premature birth, low-birth weight in infants, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” said Amy Burke, state maternal and child health nurse consultant, in the release.
Women in North Dakota who need help quitting tobacco while pregnant can find the help at North Dakota’s Baby & Me – Tobacco Free, which is a program that gives personalized educational and support sessions to those who are pregnant through monthly postnatal visits.
“Our mission is to reduce the burden of tobacco on our society,” said Alison Harrington, certified tobacco treatment specialist and respiratory therapy care manager at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center, in the release. “We are taking action to help mothers quit smoking by providing counseling and resources to live tobacco-free lives during their pregnancy and after their babies are born.”
Women who test tobacco-free at the program are given $50 diaper vouchers as an award for the healthy choices being made for themselves and their families.
According to the NDDoH, 75 percent of women who enrolled at Baby & Me – Tobacco Free were abstinent from tobacco during one or more prenatal sessions.